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.


  1. I once mailed Fasight studios to ask about improving the ball visibiliy without any response. Do you think they read this blog? If not it should be brought to their attention.

  2. You know, they are Soo close, just no cigar. Their tables ARE very nice, and really better than many other ones. It is just that I think they are pushing them out the door too fast. Whirlwind is a perfect example. If you read the writeup on the app store page, where it says "known issues" the list is pretty big, and it's absurd that they would release a table with that many problems . I fully support their basic premise, of issuing the old classic tables with the most accurate recreations possible, and understand the complex issues involved, but the simple fact is that they are the most expensive, per table on the whole app store. I remember how I hoped that the company that issued the "Gottleib collection" and the "Williams collection" for consoles, would put some out for Mac, so I really AM on their side. Honest! So.. Farsight?..Just a little less deep digging into your customers pockets if you're not going to put the care and attention into the games they deserve, folks! OK?
    I really DO like your tables...

  3. Just had a closer read of your calculations.. I think part of what you're saying, is that the balls are going unnaturally fast. and when they're difficult to see that's made worse. Just played whitewater and I couldn't keep from draining the ball over and over again because i simply could not see it, especially with the clutter on the table.
    In contrast, before that, I had been playing the now working perfectly Pinball HD.. on the "Deep" table for over half an hour. one game which is *still* not finished. No problem seeing the ball, so I didn't let it by. I like that I can just stop and resume the game later, because it was starting to get very boring,even though it is my best score yet.
    If I could play that long on the farsight tables, that would be a big improvement. I just hate that the ball goes right between the flippers, every time, before I even get a chance to play. So OK, I need to learn nudges better. I get that. Ball's too fast though, and when you can't see it anyways, I'd agree with your view on this...