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2 the History of Pinball Construction

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Gamasutra - Features - The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Lau... http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3923/the_history_of_the_pinba... The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Launching Millions of Creative Possibilities By Matt Barton,Bill Loguidice [Gamasutra presents its second exclusive web-only bonus chapter from Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton's forthcoming book Vintage Games: An Insider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and the Most Influential Games of
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  The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Launching Millions of CreativePossibilities By Matt Barton,Bill Loguidice [Gamasutra presents its second exclusive web-only bonus chapter fromBill Loguidice and Matt Barton's forthcoming book Vintage Games: AnInsider Look at the History of Grand Theft Auto, Super Mario, and theMost Influential Games of All Time.Here, the duo presents a history of Pinball Construction Set, one of theearliest and most accessible examples of a game that engendersuser-created content.] In 1981, when it was still possible to sell commercial computer games inplastic baggies,[1]Bill Budge released his latest game, Raster Blaster  , for the Apple II. It was published through his owncompany, BudgeCo Inc., a cooperative venture formed with his sister. Raster Blaster  was a fast-paced, single-screen pinball game inspired by Williams's Firepower  pinball machine. Although Raster Blaster  was a critical and commercial success, its greatest claim to fame was that it provided Budge with theexperience necessary to develop his legendary follow-up, Pinball Construction Set  ( PCS ), subtitled A video construction setfrom BudgeCo .  BudgeCo's Raster Blaster  . Gamasutra - Features - The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Lau...http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3923/the_history_of_the_pinba...1 of 1231/08/2010 14:56    Right up to the early1980s, commercial computer software often came in plastic baggies or small cardboard folders. Note theexpanded contents from the zipper storage bag of subLOGIC's configurable Pinball  (also known as Night Mission Pinball  , 1982) game from Bruce Artwick of  Flight Simulator  fame. The small cardboard folder included with the disk describes the game well: The Pinball Construction Set  contains the piecesand tools to make millions of hi-res video pinball games. No programming or typing is necessary. Just take parts from theset and put them on the game board. Press a button to play! Use the video tools to make borders and obstacles. Add gamelogic and scoring rules with the wiring kit. Create hi-res designs and logos using the BudgeCo magnifier. Color your designswith the paint brush. The fact that Budge's own Raster Blaster  could be recreated and even surpassed with PCS was enticing to anyone who haddreamed of making a virtual pinball game. Exciting stuff even today, it was downright groundbreaking in 1982 --particularly considering that the Apple II had just 48K of RAM. Gamasutra - Features - The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Lau...http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3923/the_history_of_the_pinba...2 of 1231/08/2010 14:56    Partial scan of theexterior folder from BudgeCo's srcinal release of  Pinball Construction Set  , featuring a very literal coverdesign. Although PCS was another critical and commercial success for BudgeCo, Budge and his sister were soon overwhelmed withthe demands of running a software publishing business in an increasingly sophisticated and competitive marketplace.Budge agreed to work with Trip Hawkins and his fledgling startup, Electronic Arts (EA), whose goal at the time was topromote the idea of developer as software artist (or superstar), while at the same time presenting computer games inattractive, professional packaging. Computer games had remained on the margins of popular culture, and Hawkins's goalwas not just to sell his own games but to sell gaming as a worthwhile medium.Thus, in 1983, Electronic Arts published Pinball Construction Set  in the company's iconic record album-style packaging withslick cover art, complete with a greatly expanded (though arguably superfluous) instruction manual. The game waseventually ported to the Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam,[2]Commodore 64, and PC. It was a big success for EAand instrumental in establishing the publisher's reputation for quality products.  Exterior (top) andinterior (bottom) views of the unfolded album-style packaging for the Electronic Arts version of  Pinball Construction Set  , which portrayed Budge as an artistic superstar and his product as the revolution that it was. ---[1]The Ziploc® brand or plastic zipper storage bags.[2]As part of  The Best of Electronic Arts , along with platformer Hard Hat Mack  . Gamasutra - Features - The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Lau...http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3923/the_history_of_the_pinba...3 of 1231/08/2010 14:56  How did one go about constructing a virtual pinball game with these humble machines? Budge took a pragmatic andsurprisingly modern approach to PCS ' interface, allowing for intuitive drag-and-drop construction, primarily with a joystick,though keyboard and other control options -- like the KoalaPad graphics tablet[3]-- were available on some platforms.[4] As Budge recalls, I was exposed to GUIs at Apple, and I had the pinball simulation from Raster Blaster  . I saw that it wouldbe a small step to do a construction set. This was the kind of program I liked, since there was no game to write. But it wasa lot of work, since I had to implement file saving, a mini sound editor and a mini paint program. [5]The player simply guided a disembodied hand, complete with pointing finger for selection, to draw, color, and drag and dropthe various table elements onto the board.As  Armchair Arcade member Rowdy Rob recalls, PCS was, back then, a groundbreaking program. It had an easy,intuitive, and Mac-like interface, and even without a mouse, it was a snap to place various targets, bumpers, and flippers onthe table. The flexibility of the program allowed you to create very odd-looking pinball games, and was a greatexperimental tool. This 'game' was definitely a high point in the history of Apple II games. You could 'snap together' a coolpinball game in under an hour, and your friends could play your games for longer than it took you to create the game! Howrare is that? [6]  Most conversions, likethe Commodore 64 version pictured on the right, were straight ports from the Apple II version (left), and --although they played the same -- often suffered visually. PCS was one of the very first software toys, a game in which the fun is exploring one's own creative possibilities.[7]Italso established several precedents that made it easier for novice users to achieve their vision. Everything took place froma single screen with a consolidated interface, and users could play-test their boards at any point in the developmentprocess.The title also came with a complement of sample tables for immediate play or inspiration. Though a bit clunky by modernstandards, the tables featured physics-based rules and allowed for many realistic and interesting features like multiple balls.There were also more fanciful options. Rowdy Rob reminisces, I remember creating a pinball game where, instead of launching the ball up the right side (which is standard pinball procedure), I created a table where the ball launched up the middle of the table, and most of the action took place on either side of the ball-launcher. My computer club compatriotsliked the idea so much that they copied the idea in several of their own pinball creations, which irritated me back then('they ripped off my idea!'), but looking back, I should have been flattered. The point is that the program was that  flexible;crazy pinball tables could be created and playtested without fear of crashing the program. Mirroring EA's future business model, the company tried to build on the basic ideas established by the success of  PCS andreleased titles with similar functionality from other developers, including Music Construction Set  (1984; Apple II, Atari 8-bit,Commodore 64, PC, and others), Racing Destruction Set  (1985; Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64), and  Adventure ConstructionSet  (1985; Apple II, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, PC). Gamasutra - Features - The History of the Pinball Construction Set: Lau...http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/3923/the_history_of_the_pinba...4 of 1231/08/2010 14:56
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