(Topic ID: 302701)

Insanity Falls: Let’s Build a Pinball Machine*

By Insanity_Falls

84 days ago

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    #1 84 days ago

    *working title.

    The podcast is still chugging along, but I’ve begun to fall in love with streaming and, in true Insanity Falls fashion, I’ve once again gotten a wild hare in me and changed the show format entirely.

    I’ve built tables in VPX and it’s fun, but no digital representation of pinball, no matter how accurate the simulation, could ever replace the real thing for me.
    My VPX tables are full of clip art, offensively-substandard 3D models, and always have a new place for the ball to get stuck no matter how hard I try to avoid it. However, despite all that, playing them and tweaking them almost never fails to put a smile on my face.
    I’ve never built a physical game before despite having all the know-how in the world to construct it and all the VPX experience required use it to quickly prototype and test shots before physically building them. I’ve always known this, yet for some reason, I just plain haven’t done it and the other day I started wondering why. Here’s the conclusion I arrived at:
    For some reason, I feel happy playing my shitty-looking mediocre VPX tables, but because it doesn’t REALLY feel like pinball, I don’t instinctually treat it as something only geniuses are capable of and feeling ashamed at the mere idea of not cranking out the next Deadpool or Twilight Zone on my first try. Physical pinball is a sacred cow to us for some reason, despite the fact that half of us could rebuild a pop bumper with our eyes closed yet Bob Mueller is too busy stealing money from old people to even TRY to make a game.

    Fuck that.

    Let’s look at video game trends. Arcades died, but the games lived on in peoples homes. At first, there honestly weren’t all that many good home video games, so people didn’t mind paying $60-100 once or twice a year for a Super Mario World or Ocarina of Time.

    But game studios stepped up, and they eventually started cranking out lots of good games. So many that it started to become a prohibitively expensive hobby to enjoy. Then something unexpected happened that disrupted the entire video game industry: Xbox Live Arcade, the accompanying easy-to-use SDK, and the rise of “indie games.” Suddenly instead of shelling out $60 a year for the next iteration of Halo because that was just what you did if you were a “gamer,” all these amazing games started bursting out of the woodwork at blinding speed. Instead of games that ended up costing you $200+ if you bought all the downloadable content, there was a never ending stream of phenomenal games that could be had for $10-20, and even if you didn’t like them, the tools required to go and build your own game have only gotten easier and easier, to the point where it’s now gone full circle and you have Nintendo selling Super Mario Maker and Game Builder Garage at big-budget studio prices because so many people are hungry to make their dream a reality. Some of those pipe dreams made reality by normal everyday people might even be familiar household names: Minecraft. Among Us. Fortnite. (Which, while technically a major studio game, was developed as an extra multiplayer mode for an entirely different game by some guys who thought it might be really fun and put in the extra work to make it happen. And it was, to the point that their weird little throwaway multiplayer variant became the entire game, and became one of the biggest entertainment cash cows of all time).

    And those are games that even non-gamers have heard of. For the hardcore/enthusiast/games media awards-givers, the list of games is almost literally infinite: Braid. Castle Crashers. Fez. Binding of Isaac. Super Meat Boy. Shovel Knight. Bastion. Spelunky. Rogue Legacy. FTL. Rocket League. Undertale. Superhot. Cuphead. Stardew Valley. This is the end of my list, but I can just about guarantee that any video gamer reading this is shouting at their screen about some amazing $5 game that I didn’t include. (To the Moon, anybody?) All these amazing games exist just because technology finally advanced to the point where regular people like you and me could start making them. Hell, half of us probably made a stupid game in BASIC for our TI-82 back in the day just because we were bored and figured out how to create something we found entertaining without a ton of effort, even if it was never going to be the next Drug Wars.

    I think what Multimorphic is doing is a very cool in-between step for people who can afford them and are dying to make games (if you don’t know what the Sony Net Yaroze was, google it. it was the P3 of its day for video gaming). However, almost none of us own, nor can we justify the cost of owning, a P3, regardless of how cool it is. But we all have a local hardware store, a Marco account, and an internet connection with access to all the information we could ever need. Instead of bitching about when our $150 stickers are going to show up in the mail, why not spend a hundred bucks at Harbor Freight, another hundred on some flipper assemblies and various other readily available parts, fire up the drill one weekend and see what happens? At the very least, if you see it through then you’re practically guaranteed to end up with a game that’s better than Pinbot.

    Punk Pinball. It’s a movement now. Tell your friends.

    Episode 1 is available now as a Twitch VOD, with YouTube archives to follow shortly.


    ps - I also fully believe that there was another very necessary intermediate step between the rise of the home console and the indie game phenomenon, but if I told you that part right away then you might not have any reason to keep watching the show.

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