16 December, 2012

Why do I (at times) hate Farsight?

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate enormously the fact that Farsight Studios decided the revive the classic pinball tables and make them available on the Mac and i-devices. Nineteen, yes 19, tables are available to date and at least one more is scheduled. The only other cases of classic tables that I know of which have been brought to the digital arena are the 8-ball and Royal Flush by LIttleWing and the Bronco Pinball which exist for i-devices. (There are probably many tables recreated for Visual and/or Future Pinball by they are beyond the scope of this blog).

Still whenever I play a Farsight pinball I hate them for their choice to make the ball so difficult to follow. When the first Pro Pinball made its appearance we had been amazed by the quality of its graphics, one most impressive feature being the fact that the playfield was reflected on the ball. Since that time digital pinball designers have considered this feature as a must and all modern pinball simulations do include playfield reflections on the ball. The downside of this is that the ball blends with the playfield and becomes thus less visible. When the designer is particularly careful there is no problem whatsoever: the ball remains clearly visible all the time. Look at these gorgeous screenshots of Littlewing games for i-devices, from Tristan

and Crystal Caliburn

where the ball stands out in a superb way. Look at the screenshot form The Deep by Gameprom: 

The, draining :(, ball is crealy visible. 

Now look at some Farsight pinballs: Funhouse first

and No Good Gofers, 

Instead of a round ball, with good contrast, we have something elliptical that, at times, becomes very hard to follow. The reason for this is that the  designers at Farsight decided to implement lateral reflections also (something totally unphysical).This is a disastrous choice. Look at what it does to the ball in Big Shot: 

When you have a very simple playfield, like the one in Big Shot, the reduced visibility of the ball is a mere annoyance, but in the case of, say, Twilight Zone 

or No Good Gofers the result is that sometimes the ball will drain because you could not see it and react fast enough. And, please, do not try to lecture me on the fact that the difficulty adds more spice to the game. Those pinballs are hard enough without needing extra help from a badly designed ball.

Please, Farsight, do change this. It would alleviate a great deal of frustration. 
Even Bronco Pinball 

has a better ball.

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