Tuesday, August 12, 2014


I may have mentioned once or twice that I'm a little pinball-crazed. Crossing my newsfeed today is this item about a group working to recreate in the physical realm a popular pinball machine that formerly only existed in the digital. There are constraints to the project, not the least of which are budget and the laws of physics. The availability or practicality of parts, for example, are utterly unlimited in a digital realm, and I own some games that simply cannot exist in any physical form. And there are some that lie vaguely in-between the realms of "physically possible" and "batsh*t cukoo" (and get criticized for basically being tables that play themselves.)

The Timeshock! table, though -- and the other virtual tables produced by this studio -- all appear to have just enough grounding in reality to make them practical, and that, in my opinion, is a large part of their charm (I have two of the other titles they list in the article.) They're challenging and yet predictable: simulating reality in a convincing fashion is sufficiently difficult, and I'm sure that goes two ways. I like the idea, though, almost as if the idea of pinball retreated to a digital cocoon during the lean years of the 1990's, only to re-emerge reborn and metamorphosed.

Of course, I'm still rooting for the creation of digital simulations of some of my favorite tables, too. Farsight did a decent recreation of the classic Haunted House table for their Pinball Arcade app, and they're promising a Kickstarter campaign to bring over The Addams Family, the top-selling table of all time, and (not coincidentally) the one that appears to be requested the most. I'd love to have a playable version of this machine around, as it contributed in part to my delinquency in grad school and made me weigh the importance of truly having clean laundry vs. setting aside a few quarters for a game. (Hint: laundry did not win.) As I've pointed out before, pinball machines are in top form as they leave the factory, and then are devoted to a life of being bashed and battered around from the inside-out. Care and upkeep is much easier on a tablet than a table.

All the same, I'm pretty excited. I hope this digital-to-analog port happens, and I hope to give the game a try in person if it does. It's not too often something digital gets to insert itself into the analog realm, and I think it's noteworthy when it does.

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