29 January, 2015

Timeshock is out!

Coming back from work I found a mail waiting for me announcing the availability of Timeshock at the iTunes store. If you read this post you are certainly a pinball fan. So do not waste any time. Rush to the iTunes store and download Timeshock. Digital pinball cannot get better than this. 

Well, now that I think about this I am not quite sure about what I just wrote. I am convinced that Big Race USA, when it is revived by the Barnstorm Games team will be better than Timeshock. But just to make sure BRUSA gets revived and remastered do not hesitate to spend some money on Timeshock (and write some 5-star critique).

27 January, 2015

Starship Troopers (by Farsight)

If you are, like myself, a science fiction fan you cannot be indifferent to a pinball based on one of the greatest SF classics. (Well, the table intro says that it is based on the movie but since the latter was based on the novel…).

In my previous post I wrote about the problem with the latest version of Pinball Arcade. In the case of Starship Troopers the situation is not catastrophic on the iPad Air as you can see from the screenshot below.

Still a large part of the screens' surface is wasted for unfathomable reasons. I did not even try to play the game on the 10” iPad and tried it on the iPad mini instead. There the situation appears normal

I did not get to play the game a lot but my first impression is quite positive. There are plenty of things that I do like like for instance the four-ball multiball or the customised face in the high score list. The only things that I did not like at all is the large central drain and the flippers’ angle, both contributing to the ball draining too easily to my taste.

Anyway, Starship Troopers is a nice pinball table, just the perfect warm-up while we wait for the Addams Family next month.

25 January, 2015

What is the problem with Farsight?

An update to Pinball Arcade arrived yesterday (with Starship Troopers, but more on this in the next post) and it contained a bad surprise. While everything was OK on the iPhone and iPad mini, on the iPad Air the angle of view was completely off giving an unplayable view like this one.

For other tables the situation not as dramatic but still totally unacceptable. In many cases I had an unadjustable view of the whole pinball machine present in the window and thus with a useful area divided by (at least) 2.

What are people at Farsight doing? Aren't they supposed to test their pinballs on all existing machines before releasing? This incident reminds me of a last year's release where the landscape mode was mandatory making the pinball unplayable on the iPhone's small screen. Let us cross our fingers and hope that a fix comes out soon.

PS The issue has been fixed in yesterday's (02/02/15) update, but still I have trouble understanding the way Farsight works.

20 January, 2015

Timeshock submitted to Apple

Today I received the announcement below

It was sent to those who pledged for the Timeshock Kickstarter.

Now we have to wait a little bit longer (although, I guess, the 1.0.0 version is identical to the last beta I tested).

18 January, 2015

On ball visibility

In a recent post I was commenting on the net improvement of ball visibility in Timeshock. As I was writing there, one can now play Timeshock on the iPhone, something that was practically impossible before. Just to make things clearer, I am giving below two screen captures centred on the ball itself. Here is a capture from the old version 

and here one from the new

The improvement is clear. Still, since I am really finicky when it comes to ball visibility, I decided to compare the Timeshock ball to the ones I consider as the standard for digital pinball, namely the balls for Littlewing pinballs.
Here is one from Tristan 

and here a capture from Crystal Caliburn. 

One can readily assess that the Littlewing balls have still the advantage when it comes to visibility. But I should not be nagging: Timeshock is quite playable in particular on larger screens.

13 January, 2015

Aerobatics from Zaccaria

Well, in fact, it is from ASK Homework but since it is part of the Zaccaria collection, I feel that the title is appropriate.

I have written is some older post of mine that I was not going to write about ASK Homework’s pinballs any more. Still as time goes by, the pinballs of the Zaccaria collection are accumulating and the people at ASK are making constant improvements I find it decent to give them regular coverage. In fact in two major updates they not only managed to slim down their collection’s size but also to improve their engine. The sluggishness that was plaguing their previous engine is practically gone and one can at last enjoy playing the Zaccaria pinballs.

Speaking of which, the last addition to the collection is a table I loved at first sight. Aerobatics is a great vintage table

Simple, yet interesting to play, with nice graphics and an uncluttered playfield. Moreover the price is right, so if you are, like myself, a fan of oldie pinball tables, do not hesitate.

08 January, 2015

Why do I love ProPinballs?

Of course, the main reason is that they are the best digital pinballs ever. Super-realistic simulations, great graphics and most interesting game-play. However ProPinballs are more than this. There is a solid team at Barnstorm Games who cares about users and their experience. Having participated at the alpha/beta testing of Timeshock I can vouch for this. 

In a previous blog post I had written about the ball visibility problem and my correspondence with Adrian Barritt. Since the new version of Timeshock for iOS is out you can judge for yourselves. 

On the left we have a screen capture with the old ball and on the right with the new one. The difference in visibility is clear. The game now is much more comfortable on both the iPad and the iPhone. (Concerning the latter I must admit that while the game is now playable, in the sense that you can easily follow the ball, it is still not quite enjoyable on my iPhone 5 4” screen. As I have always maintained, pinballs are best played on big screens). 

But putting playability aside, the most important thing is that the ProPinball team take into account the feedback of the users and do not hesitate to modify the details of the game accordingly. No wonder I love ProPinballs.

07 January, 2015

On Farsight’s bad taste

I decided to try EarthShaker on the Mac. As always it is much more comfortable to play on a big screen. In fact I managed to obtain a high score on the very first try. And when I got to the high scores screen I got a shock. Have a look at the screen capture.

Apparently nobody has explained to the Farsight guys the difference between proportional and fixed-width fonts. Somehow they decided to use a proportional one and to hell with the look of the results. As chance will have it the top score contains no fewer than four 1s and thus an 8-digit number is squeezed into a space smaller than the 7-digit ones. I don’t know what you think about this, after all it is just one detail, but for me this is one more indication that the people at Farsight lack taste.