07 July, 2013

What is wrong with Farsight?

My friend Doc/Nick brought to my attention a page where people are giving very bad critiques to Pinball Arcade. It's on Bad App Reviews. I found another page myself, a blog by Lepus Lepidus.

While the majority of these critiques focus on the fact that paying for every Farsight table can tally up quite high (I don't find this unacceptable, provided it is clear from the outset what are the things you have to pay extra for), many critiques (and in particular the LL blog) point out that the functioning of Farsight is far from optimal.

It is my impression that they go ahead trying to produce one table after another (which in the light of what we said above means extra income) without really caring about producing top quality products. In particular, I am convinced that they never worried whether their tables are optimised for iDevices and especially for iPad mini.

It's time for a few calculations. 

I have measured afresh the distance between the eye and the screen both for the iMac and the iPad mini. The distances are a tad smaller than the ones I gave in a previous blog entry: 55 cm and 45 cm respectively. I have also estimated the diagonal of the playfield and found roughly 40 cm for the iMac and 20 cm for the iPad mini. Given the different distances at which these linear elements are viewed the 20 cm for the iPad would correspond at 25 if viewed at the iMac distance. Thus the ratio of the two lengths iPad mini over iMac is 0.6. If the ball moves with the same speed in both tables then the same graphical element would be covered almost twice as fast in the iPad mini. This would ask, in some situations, for far better reflexes on the smaller screen, which would explain the statistically inferior scores on iDevices, compared to those on the iMac.

What can be done?

If we wish to have a given graphical element covered in equal times in both situations, and neglecting frictional forces as well as ball rotation we find that the ratio of lengths should be equal to the ratio of the effective forces of gravity which in turn is equal to the ratio of the table slopes. Including friction and rotation effects would increase this ratio but it would be still be smaller than 1. So what we need is an option to decrease the slope of the table. A real Pro menu should provide this. Alas this is something missing in the Farsight collection.

The ball, again. 

I do not know how many times I have written complaining about the ball of Farsight pinballs. Their choice of unphysical reflections is making some tables unplayable. 
It is time to show some telling screen shot (shown with a factor 2 magnification). 

On the left one of the best balls ever, the Littlewing Tristan ball and on the right (I know, I chose it on purpose) a nightmare of a ball, the Farsight Big Shot one. Something has to be done about this.

02 July, 2013

Whirlwind is here!

Farsight is a blessing for a digital pinball blogger. When you are scratching your head trying to decide what will your next blog post be, Farsight comes along with new tables and cures your anguish.

The new installment of Season Two Farsight tables comes with one more Pat Lawlor gem,  Whirlwind

This is a relatively early Lawlor table situated between Earthshaker and Funhouse. (By the way, when are we going to have Earthshaker on iOS/OSX?). Whirlwind has all the whistles and bells characteristic of Lawlor's style. It is eminently playable (even with the invisible Farsight ball) but I must admit that over the last month I switched to the iMac for any serious play. The iPad is a game machine but I prefer to avoid the Farsight-ball stress. Although in general I prefer uncluttered playfields I do make an exception for Lawlor's crowded playfields and the need for precise shots. If you have not played one of his previous pinballs in the Farsight Season One collection, Whirlwind is definitely the one to try.

The second pinball Champion Pub 

is less interesting. The heavily coloured playfield makes following the ball really hard. Still I did like the skipping rope and since you cannot buy Whirlwind without Champion you could as well give it a try.