(Topic ID: 74268)

What is Flow ?


By mof

5 years ago



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  • Latest reply 4 years ago by zrbrt
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#1 5 years ago

I hear a lot of people throwing the word "flow" around -- especially on games that I consider have ZERO flow... And sometimes I'm thinking -- What? Is he f***ing crazy? Perhaps -- Or... do we just have different definitions of flow?

Let's see if we can create a "best" definition of flow...

1. Read all posts before you post, and see if your opinion has already been stated.
2. If you see a post that matches your precise view, vote for it !
3. If you don't see a definition you agree with, give your unique definition of flow, and expect some votes.
4. When we see some heavily voted definitions, I'll create a poll, and we can vote for the best definition.

Suggestions for creating your definition of flow:
1. Define what you think flow is.
2. Define what you think flow is NOT.

--> In this thread, since we are not rating baby pictures, please DO use your "thumbs down" button liberally. If you disagree with a definition, knock that sucker down. We want the definitions with the most points to rise up.

-mof

#2 5 years ago

reserved.

-4
#3 5 years ago

1. I think flow means player interaction with the ball. I think the formula would look like this:
(Flipper Button Pushes** + Cabinet Nudges / Time) = Player Interaction.

(FBP+CN)/T=PI=Flow

I think flow is NOT the following:
2. anything that slows the ball down -- such as most ramp ball returns (habitrails)
3. anything that stops the ball (multi-ball lock, cellars, (some toys), unnecessary DMD animations/sounds/songs, flippers that force a trap nearly every time they are raised, etc.)
4. when shots cannot be made via backhand, requiring a post-transfer (which sometimes takes many steps) to make a shot**

** Ideally, most shots can be backhanded from either flipper. I would hesitate to count flipper passes as "action" -- alley passes to activate inlane switches, I certainly *would* count.

-mof

10
#4 5 years ago

Flow = balls are spoon fed right back to your flipper from a ramp requiring no nudge or advanced skills to catch random wild balls.

#5 5 years ago

She was the waitress in dumb and dumber

#6 5 years ago
Quoted from Jokercyclone:

She was the waitress in dumb and dumber

LOL ! No... she was the waitress in Alice... "Kiss my Grits!"
-mof

#7 5 years ago

and I thought this was ...

Flo.jpg

11
#8 5 years ago

it usually happens to women about once a month

#9 5 years ago

Flow = balls travel around an orbit or loop.

22
#10 5 years ago

Flow for me is the ability to string multiple different shots together with out ever needing to trap the ball, do a dead flip etc. Combo'ing shots together.

STTNG - Alpha ramp to Beta Ramp To left orbit to Delta ramp to Left orbit to Delta, rinse and repeat - ball never stops.

ToM - center stairs, center stairs, inside loop, inside loop, right stair case, left orbit, left orbit ........ball never stops

#11 5 years ago

To me flow is constant movement without having to wait too long for ramp returns, modes, and game interactions. For example: Return time on ramps with diverters like LOTR and BDK make flow slow and gets annoying after time. Another example is JM. I could not wait to get one. It lasted one week in my collection before the slow glove mode drove me crazy and I had to sell it. Avengers is another title that does not flow well. The playfield design with close distance between flippers and shots makes it a very difficult pin and also affects overall flow. I still enjoy it because of the difficulty but I have had very few games that I feel "flow well". Games that have tremendous flow in my opinion are Tron, Metallica, X-Men, IM, and ST to name a few.

#12 5 years ago
Quoted from pinmister:

To me flow is constant movement without having to wait too long for ramp returns, modes, and game interactions.

You gonna love my games!

#13 5 years ago
Quoted from fusion301:

Flow for me is the ability to string multiple different shots together without ever needing to trap the ball, do a dead flip etc. Combo'ing shots together.

STTNG - Alpha ramp to Beta Ramp To left orbit to Delta ramp to Left orbit to Delta, rinse and repeat - ball never stops.
ToM - center stairs, center stairs, inside loop, inside loop, right stair case, left orbit, left orbit ........ball never stops

(I don't know those two games very well.) You say the ball never stops. Curious -- does the ball ever lose ANY of its natural momentum in any of these shots mentioned? (For example, on a clean outer orbit shot, I would say "no perceivable momentum is lost.")

-mof

#14 5 years ago
Quoted from mof:

(I don't know those two games very well.) You say the ball never stops. Curious -- does the ball ever lose ANY of its natural momentum in any of these shots mentioned? (For example, on a clean outer orbit shot, I would say "no perceivable momentum is lost.")

-mof

ball doesnt really lose much momentum

#15 5 years ago

images.jpg

#16 5 years ago

There's physical flow - which is what the flow-police are always after...relatively non-stop combos & balls feeding to flippers. Speed, really.

There's also logic flow. TSPP always gets shit for not being a flow game...but I submit that it is....every shot links to another meaningful shot organically. Sure, there are pauses - but pretty much every shot has a combo possibility. Example - you can shoot the ramp (back to flipper) then the Otto loop (pause, but feeds to upper flipper), shoot to Treehouse ramp (pause, pops to upper playfield), then shoot to TV (pause, feeds to upper right flip), then shoot up ramp to couch (pause and lock or start Multiball). So - less speed there, but still flow.

#17 5 years ago

Flow in a game is a good thing, but if every game had great flow games would all feel very much alike. I'm not hating on flow games, I like them too.

#18 5 years ago

No stop and go.

#19 5 years ago
Quoted from pinmister:

To me flow is constant movement without having to wait too long for ramp returns, modes, and game interactions. For example: Return time on ramps with diverters like LOTR and BDK make flow slow and gets annoying after time. Another example is JM. I could not wait to get one. It lasted one week in my collection before the slow glove mode drove me crazy and I had to sell it. Avengers is another title that does not flow well. The playfield design with close distance between flippers and shots makes it a very difficult pin and also affects overall flow. I still enjoy it because of the difficulty but I have had very few games that I feel "flow well". Games that have tremendous flow in my opinion are Tron, Metallica, X-Men, IM, and ST to name a few.

I can't believe someone thumbs downed this post and didn't add anything....uh maybe it was just JM love that caused it. You can't argue with the full stop of the glove. I like that kind of thing in a pin though ,it gives me time to take a drink or 3.

but I think Pinmister is on the right track in his def though.

Steve Ritchie=flow Barry Oursler=not so much

#20 5 years ago

The thing about this is - every "flow" game has SOME stop. It just has to happen.

AC/DC=Jukebox saucer, Cannon, pops area, Bell (sorta)
Spider-Man=Doc Ock saucer/VUK, Sandman saucer/VUK, pops area.
Star Trek = Mode saucer, Vengeance Lock, Away Team shot

Even the beloved flow games have to stop the ball every so often.

#21 5 years ago

Flow = The name for a product feature that Steve Ritchie is trying to sell to you.

#22 5 years ago

This is the part of the hobby where I don't fit in. Play more. Who spends their time defining and measuring flow. Maybe you don't get it more importantly feel it but folks I talk to do.
And if you have a different definition , good for you enjoy it!

#23 5 years ago

Want to know what flow is play ST and or SM you will have it right in your face. To me a big part of it is the layout providing potential to backhand a wide variety of shots so you can be going towards an objective with either flipper and not have to stop the ball or hit a meaningless shot to get it to a different flipper. It also has to do with speed IMO. Once you string a few shots together and you are in the flow the ball gains momentum and the ball is just flying around the field. Ramp areas and how they return can also have a big impact on how well a pins layout flows. If you have a bunch of upkickers, scoops, and stuff stopping the ball or only one ramp entrance with multiple upper/lower playfields then you are likely playing a pin with very little flow.

#24 5 years ago

To me a flowy game makes you want to keep making on the fly shots because theyre very satisfying. Might not be the best strategy but on a pure gameplay level its fun.

#25 5 years ago
Quoted from Rarehero:

The thing about this is - every "flow" game has SOME stop. It just has to happen.
AC/DC=Jukebox saucer, Cannon, pops area, Bell (sorta)
Spider-Man=Doc Ock saucer/VUK, Sandman saucer/VUK, pops area.
Star Trek = Mode saucer, Vengeance Lock, Away Team shot
Even the beloved flow games have to stop the ball every so often.

Funny how every flow game you mentioned is a Ritchie game

#26 5 years ago

The irony for me is that when I play these so-called "flow" games, I end up hitting nothing but BNODs.

Tony

#27 5 years ago

I'ts everything that TSPP is not.

#28 5 years ago

The kicker is ....
Star trek, I believe, is the first flowing backhand - left flipper to left ramp - rinse n repeat

#29 5 years ago

Flow is what doesn't happen when you play TZ. (but TZ is still a great game)

#30 5 years ago
Quoted from toddsolus:

I can't believe someone thumbs downed this post and didn't add anything....uh maybe it was just JM love that caused it. You can't argue with the full stop of the glove. I like that kind of thing in a pin though ,it gives me time to take a drink or 3.

The glove didn't kill the flow for me because I'm still actively controlling where the ball goes to choose a specific bonus and/or setup triple jackpots.

The video *snarf* mode, on the other hand... That's a flow killer. I like getting the extra ball as a strategic choice, but when the hand is disabled you get video mode every time which completely kills the flow of the game and makes me turn it off (or just let the video mode timeout while I grab another beer).

#31 5 years ago

Flow=Demo Man if you are hitting the shots, very smooth game.

#32 5 years ago
Quoted from mnpinball:

Funny how every flow game you mentioned is a Ritchie game

I did that on purpose.

Quoted from fattdirk:

I'ts everything that TSPP is not.

I explained why that's not true

#33 5 years ago

Party Zone's "Eat, Drink and Be Merry", now that's flow.

#34 5 years ago

You can have have good flow without tremendous speed (Think STTNG) but you can't have tremendous speed without flow (Think JM).

Games with good flow - JM, HS2 (and 1), STTNG, Tron, IM.....etc.....

Games with horrible flow - TZ, WOZ, TSPP....etc....

#35 5 years ago

i think part of "flow" is also the game doesn't constantly stop the ball for you.

#37 5 years ago

I forget who it was but somebody here once said that Pin*bot had no flow at all.

#38 5 years ago

There's a totally different type of "flow" that I first expereienced with pinball. "Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity." You're "in the zone". It's when you can do no wrong. Every shot you make hits it's target - missing is not even an option. "The digit counters fall" and you win game after game. And the ball doesn't just not drain - it's like it can't drain.

I'm an amateur guitar player and one time I had the same thing happen while I was jamming with some other guys in college. I got into this state where my singing was great and effortless, and my lead guitar playing was as fluid and brilliant as Jimi F-ing Hendrix's. Unfortunately about 6 seconds into it I became conscious of it ("hey this is cool!") which of course totally kills any state of flow you're in. Never had that happen again with guitar, but for 6 glorious seconds it was like god (or maybe Jimi) shining a beam of light down on me from the heavens.

Still happens occasionally in pinball, though!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology)

#39 5 years ago

Flow is 15.5 gallons of Boston Lager coming out of my tap handle over the holiday season.

#40 5 years ago

Yonkiman is referring to Flow Theory I think as introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

"The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored."

It is a theory of Optimal experience and can certainly apply to pinball. Maybe that is what SR is referring to in his designs.

here is a link to a TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html

#41 5 years ago
Quoted from tamoore:

Flow is 15.5 gallons of Boston Lager coming out of my tap handle over the holiday season.

Flow is me standing in the corner of the back yard after drinking 15.5 gallons of your Boston Lager.

#42 5 years ago

Flow = TRON
\

#43 5 years ago
Quoted from pinmister:

Games that have tremendous flow in my opinion are Tron, Metallica, X-Men, IM, and ST to name a few.

All good, but did you find a few more last night? Thanks for dinner bro! How was that at one time the three of us were just standing there playing only the System 3 games? Barb Wire's got some flow, eh? Have fun at the "land"!

#44 5 years ago
Quoted from mof:

does the ball ever lose ANY of its natural momentum in any of these shots mentioned?

In STTNG, you need the momentum to make the upper flipper shot to the ramp. In fact that shot is hard to hit, not as a combo.

Someone said 'returns' are not flow' which I tend to disagree with, since I think of flow as when you are not having to stop the ball to take control if to make shots, as well as the game stopping the ball excessively.

I do agree that a game with fast shots and combos is typically a flow game. But that would not be my only definition, since I do think a game like LOTR, with ball returns, has flow to it (low intensity flow), but certainly not to same degree as say BK2K (high intensity flow). I500 is a fast game with flow, but does have a game ball stop (the turbo), that breaks that flow a little bit, so, I guess that is "flow with a speed bump".

Also many games will just drop the ball into pops, typically out of lanes (LOTR, STTNG, I500 all do this), which I find kills flow, but I don't think that kills a game from being a 'flow game'. What is interesting is the Steve Ritchie games often do this, and he is the king of speed/flow. Pat Lawlor games typically don't (He loves the shot through the pops) and most don't consider his flow games. NGG, which is often called Lawlor doing Ritchie, also drops the ball into the pop like Ritchie.

#45 5 years ago

shadow is a flow game

#46 5 years ago

Even games that are predominately, "stop and go" can have flow. If you ever scored a four way combo on TAF, you know what I'm talking about.

10 months later
#47 4 years ago

I'm still seeing the word "flow" kicked around to mean different things to different people.

1. What does "flow" mean to you?
2. In what games do you see the most flow?
3. What is the "ABSENCE of flow" feel like to you?
4. In what games do you see the least flow?

-mof

#48 4 years ago

My updated definition of flow looks more like this:

FLOW IS:
1. The ball is frequently fed from one shot to another (Grand Lizard, Seawitch)
2. The ball's speed is not considerably altered via any toy/ramp/mechanism. (Grand Lizard, Seawitch)

FLOW IS NOT:
1. When the ball is shot, and then the ball is stopped via toy/ramp/mechanism, to the point that the physics I applied to the ball with my shot is drastically, or completely removed from the ball. Either the trajectory or speed of the ball should still be influencing where the ball is seconds later. (Most DMDs and Moderns)

I'm starting to think it might be helpful to start using the phrase:

"Solid state flow" -- to mean my definition of flow
and
"DMD ramp flow" -- to mean the "spoon feed the ball safely back to the flippers after you make a ramp shot" definition.

But I don't want to assume there are only 2 definitions of flow being used. There may be 3 or 4 or more...

-mof

#49 4 years ago

Fluidity of shot.

#50 4 years ago

Like art, I know it when I see it.

I think it's largely uninterrupted shots that flow back to flippers.

Games that don't flow real well can have combos that do flow in the short term (TSPP), and games that flow really well can have times when the action slows down for toys, ball locks, mode holes and what-not (JM, WH20).

I think what defines a game as flow or stop and go is what it feels like a majority of the time. Not all the time.

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