Factory Pinball, “the ragdoll pinball game”, should really have just called itself Ragdoll Pinball. The name alone would perfectly communicate the game concept. Factory Pinball was created by XZM Productions, a team of three, for the Assembly ’05 game development competition. Although the game is a bit self-explanatory, here’s their readme.txt description for good measure:
Factory Pinball is a customizable ragdoll based physics pinball game. The objective is to hit the “ball” with the paddles and keep it from falling down.
Factory Ragdoll isn’t just a physics test with some paddles. The developers created a complete, if somewhat simplistic, pinball experience. You have a scoring system, bumpers, spinners, and various letters to light up. There are challenges, too—a switch could trigger “hit the crate 15 times in 90 seconds”, for instance. All in all it feels like a very authentic pinball experience (although no multiball?).
The physics are fairly standard. The simulation is stable, even at high speeds, and the ragdolls bounce around as expected. The “ball” starts out as a human ragdoll, and occasionally swaps to other ragdolls, such as a cow or giraffe. Although the various ragdolls have differing geometry, the net effect of their behavior is pretty similar. You don’t need to change up your strategy if you’re dealing with the cow rather than giraffe, for instance.
What bugs me most about Factory Pinball are actually the graphics. Granted, they were done by one person, and probably under a brutally tight schedule, but the contrast is very muddy. It’s hard to visually track the character, and the obstacles blend in with the background. Sharper contrast would definitely serve the game well.
My criticism of the artwork is stopped short by the available editor, though. If I really wanted to change the art, or design new obstacles, or even an entire table, I could. The editor tool is a little clunky—no undo, no contextual menu, little documentation—but if one was determined to make something I’m sure it’s possible.
Free Game Download
The game and its editor have been released as a free download, so check them out! Factory Pinball is a solid implementation of a neat concept. There’s certainly a lot of headroom in the design—I’d love to see the ragdoll pinball concept fleshed out even more.
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