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Feature: 'The Designer's Notebook: The Unique Design Challenge of Pinball Simulations'

In another of today's main Gamasutra features, this month's Designer's Notebook takes a look at the wonderful world of pinball simulations, and what a game needs to fully...

Simon Carless

October 3, 2005

1 Min Read

In another of today's main Gamasutra features, this month's Designer's Notebook takes a look at the wonderful world of pinball simulations, and what a game needs to fully capture all the bells and whistles of the real thing. Columnist Ernest Adams turns his attention to this intriguing niche, commenting of the genre: "Fifty years ago, there were many kinds of mechanical or electro-mechanical coin-operated games. Many of them were simulations of other things – racing cars, baseball, shooting galleries, and so on. With the arrival of video games, they've almost all disappeared except for pinball, and Stern Pinball in Illinois now claims that it's the only pinball machine manufacturer left in the world. I think one of the reasons that pinball has survived – barely – is that it's a game in its own right, not a poor mechanical analogue of some other game. Its enduring appeal is not lost on game developers, and from Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set in 1983 to Pure Pinball, released for the Xbox last year, the game industry has released a steady stream of video pinball simulations. If you want to make a pinball video game, it's essential to reproduce that rich sensory experience as closely as you can. When you first start up a pinball game there's a great deal of clacking and flashing as all the mechanical devices reset to their initial positions. It's not really necessary; since the machine wasn't in use, they were probably in their initial positions anyway, but it's the machine's way of saying, 'I'm ready for you. Bring it on!'" You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject (no registration required, please feel free to link to the article from external websites).

About the Author(s)

Simon Carless

Blogger

Simon Carless is the founder of the GameDiscoverCo agency and creator of the popular GameDiscoverCo game discoverability newsletter. He consults with a number of PC/console publishers and developers, and was previously most known for his role helping to shape the Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Conference for many years.

He is also an investor and advisor to UK indie game publisher No More Robots (Descenders, Hypnospace Outlaw), a previous publisher and editor-in-chief at both Gamasutra and Game Developer magazine, and sits on the board of the Video Game History Foundation.

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