[Acorn Gaming]


Pinball Development

Written by Mattijs van Delden (csg216@cs.rug.nl)
Formatting and minor modifications by Gareth Moore


Pinball is back again. But this time not the big cabinets you see in amusement arcades, but the computer pinball game. In just over a year, other computers have seen pinball games such as (in no particular order) : Devil Crash, Pinball Dreams 1 & 2, Pinball Fantasies, Pinball Illusions, Psycho Pinball, Epic Pinball, Silverball and Eightball Deluxe.

But what can you get for your Archimedes or Risc PC? The only pinball game I know of is Arcpinball from Shibumi Soft that misses all the things that the PC games have, such as smooth scrolling, LED display, lots of interesting tables and playability.

So I said to myself, during an extremely lazy holiday last summer in the south of France, ``I can do that!'' It seemed like a great `idea' for a new games project. I decided not to convert an existing pinball game from the PC or Amiga, but to design and implement an original (i.e. not totally copied) Archimedes game.

Game Features

Features of the game are (as chaotic as possible):
  • 50 fps animation
  • vertical hardware scrolling (also 50 fps)
  • variable number of flippers (not just two)
  • music during play that reacts to the table
  • LED display with score and animations
  • multiple tables (as much as possible)
  • multiple modes (13, 21, VGA, RPC 32K colours, ??)
  • adjustable scroll following ball
  • adjustable angle of table
  • minimum specification: 1 MB ARM2 machine with standard monitor
  • multiball
  • multiple levels in tables
  • left & right tilting nonsense (eh!? - Ed.)
  • variable size tables

When will this great game be available, and how much will it cost? To begin with the last question: I really don't know. But if it comes out (I think it will, but I still have to sell it), I want it to be affordable. Most games for the Archimedes are too expensive in my opinion. I think that when a game is good AND cheap, people will buy it. If it is not good, forget it. Games that are expensive will be copied instead of bought. No matter how good the copy protection will be, it will always be hacked by some `clever' person (not me, not me) and then the copying can begin. Copying a manual is worth the efford if it saves you up to 40 pounds! The only danger of a cheap game is that people won't take it seriously. `If it is that cheap, it can't be good'.

And when will it be available? As soon as possible, so I can start making mo... erm, sorry about that. What I really mean is that quality will cost time (so can utter rubbish, but that's another story) and that the game has to be absolutely fabulous before you get it. So how far have I got?

So far I have got one table in mode 13 with a ball bouncing through it and a set of flippers smashing the silver thing in all directions except the one you wanted. However, the ball movement routines are mathematically correct (say what?) what means that the ball never goes through any edges (it did for quite a while) and that the movement is just like the real thing. Furthermore, there are some flashing lights, popbumpers, rollovers and drop targets. And that's it, really.

Before you run away, let me tell you that when you have reliable ball movement and realistic flippers, you have got two of the three most important ingredients for a pinball game. The third is of course gameplay (Arc games programmers: gameplay, which means that it is fun to play the game!). The other parts like soundtracker, sound effects, music, scores, table features, animations, intros, menus and whatever are fairly standard and easy.

At the moment, the program uses about 20 percent of the processor time on my ARM 2. And the program isn't optimized in any way! The sprite plot routine is just a simple word plotting routine with a loop plotting one word.

Except for a few small routines, the game is in a language I cannot mention, because I cannot afford a compiler for it. I hope to be able to buy one when I sell the game.

If you are interested in the mechanics of this (to be) pinball game, I have some more information about it. Don't expect ready to type and run code, because I am not THAT stupid! (Well, not continuously anyway!)

You can make a difference! How many times have you seen a new game and thought: `Nice, but if I had made it, then...'? Now you can just tell me! I want your ideas and suggestions. Anything is welcome, from features for tables, layouts, themes, graphics, intro ideas to LED display layout, animations and... (fill in yourself!). Also welcome are `Please do ...' and `Please don't ...', as long as they are constructive (not Please do not make a pinball game!) and useful, I promise I will take a serious look at them.

If you want to use snailmail, then write to:
Mattijs van Delden
Kombuis 28
9732GB Groningen
The Netherlands

...this page last updated: 8/6/95...
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