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!'"
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