26 April, 2016

FarSight, get your act together

In my previous post on Last Action Hero I was saying that I had to try this table on the iMac's screen. I just did and, indeed, the gameplay is much nicer. One can see the details of the upper part of the playfield and this improves the whole experience.

However while playing on the iMac I found out that FarSight had screwed the game once more. First, have a look at the table menu.

Admittedly they have already announced that a new Pinball Arcade User Interface will be released (for Steam?) in a near future. But does this mean that there will be updates for all platforms? And even if this were true is there any valid reason for destroying the present GUI?

But, wait, there's more. I noticed something fishy at the end of a game of Big Shot and I played a few more without bothering about the game in order to get to the end. And there it was. 

Look at the two scores: they differ by 10000. How could they do it? It would take some deliberate bug to do this (unless it is a new feature, in which case they should have included it in the Pro version and make people pay for this).

But the worst of all is the new table angles introduced. In the number 1 and number 3 orientations you have to launch the ball when the table is tilted at an angle

or viewed from the side

which make a skillshot next to impossible. Only the number 2 orientation provides a top-down view that allows one to accurately aim at a skillshot. As far as I am concerned I always prefer the top-down view. But there may be people who prefer the number 1 orientation with its 3-D feeling, and they will have a very hard time scoring skillshots.

At times one wonders whether the people at FarSight do actually play with their own pinballs.

Oh, and one positive feature. Fair is fair: there is one. The ball shadow I have recently written about seems to be absent from the Mac version of the pinballs. Apparently it is an iDevice only feature. (But of course there are instances playing Big Shot with the standard ball when you have the impression that the ball is transparent because of those pesky reflections).

24 April, 2016

Last Action Hero, by FarSight

FarSight produced another simulation of a movie-based pinball, a movie that garnered a best actor nomination at the Saturn Awards for Schwarzie, accompanied by two worst actor nominations at the Razzie and Stinkers Awards. Be that as it may, the pinball, Last Action Hero

is a nice one , with several interesting features, the Super Crane, magnets under the playfield similar to the one in Addams Family and a gun-shaped button launcher.

I did like this game and in particular the fact that you can very easily obtain a multiball. While the lower part of the table is uncluttered, the upper part is a densely packed and one has trouble seeing what is going on there. Moreover the playfield is too high in colours and one has a hard time choosing the proper colour for the ball. I opted for a white one, but the green ball is equally OK.

Usually I test the new pinballs on my iPad Air with a 9.7 inch screen and a top-down view. In the case of Last Action Hero I could not enjoy the gameplay and moreover I was unable to find a satisfactory viewing angle. Thus I moved to the iPad Pro and the situation did improve a bit. I guess that for a decent experience one has to play this pinball on a big iMac screen (but I haven't tried that yet).

16 April, 2016

An alarming situation

Well, to be fair, what I am going to write about are not news. It is something I knew all along but somehow I preferred to forget.

While visiting the ProPinball forum I stumbled upon a discussion where some member was asking if anyone had an estimate on the possible release date of the remaining ProPinballs: BRUSA, Fantastic Journey and The Web. The answer by another member was really disheartening: "unless there are some huge advances in rendering technology, they are several years away". The discussion attracted more members who voiced their doubts as to whether the rendering was the real source of the delays. 

Talking about delays, I wonder whether we are on track for beating a new record. Timeshock was supposed to be released in December 2013 (yes, that's not a typo: December 2013 was indeed what was announced in the Kickstarter project). Two and a half years later the release is still a beta-esque one, rendering still goes on and promised features (like the new physics engine) are still AWOL.

I wrote about the Timeshock delays already in this postBy now I am practically convinced that while the ProPinball project is not dead it has been put on the back-burner. The developers at Barnstorm Games (I wonder how many) most probably work on this when they find time while tending other, probably more lucrative, projects. When the initial ProPinballs were produced they covered just a four year span from 1995 to 1999. Admittedly at that time one had to develop for just the Mac and Wintel machines while now one has to plan for iDevices and Android based portable devices as well. Moreover the number of different screen configurations increases the number of necessary renderings. Still I find three years a disproportionally long time interval for the development of a single game. If this goes on, I do not think that we will ever see the revival of the remaining ProPinballs.

08 April, 2016

Gameprom's new pinball: DreamLand

Without fanfare, Gamerpom added a new table to their already quite substantial collection. The new table is an amusement park based, a theme pinball manufacturers tend to return to. We have for instance real pinballs like Fun Park, Jolly Park but also digital ones like Thrillride of Sierra (reviewed in this post), Theme Park of ASK Homework or FarSight's Hurricane, to say nothing of one of Lawlor's masterpieces, Funhouse.


is a table nice graphically and has the usual layout of the recent Gameprom tables: secondary tables, three-dimensional structures, very bright colours. The physics are the ones we are accustomed to with Gameprom, although with the table at hand I find the flippers somewhat less accurate. But perhaps this is only due to an effect of perspective and once one integrates this the problem disappears. 

I find the gameplay only moderately interesting (not everyone can be Pat Lawlor) but since you can try the game before you buy I suggest that you spend some time with it in order to decide if you like it or not. 

01 April, 2016

Yes, FarSight can always do worse!

I have been complaining about the invisibility of the Farsight standard (silver) ball, like for ages. The only solution, following a suggestion of my frend Nick, was to choose among the various special unicolour balls one that had the best contrast given the dominant colour of the playfield. So when I tested Rescue 911 I decided to use a black ball. After playing for a while I had the growing impression that the ball was fuzzy. I took some screenshots in order to have a better look and this is what I found

Farsight has added a shadow at the ball. Instead of fixing the reflections that are creating all the problems, they have added a shadow, God knows why, which makes the black ball (one of my preferred ones) almost unplayable.

In the previous post on Rescue 911 pinball you can clearly see the shadow around the blue ball. The effect is not as bad as in the case of the a black ball but it is definitely not an improvement.  I cannot tell for sure when this feature made its appearance. It was definitely not there when ElDorado and Fireball were released but I have the impression that it was already present in Hurricane although I did not notice it at the time.

And just to remind how things can be bad with the ball reflections, shadow or no shadow, here is a screenshot from the Big Shot table

Why on earth does FarSight ignore the essential things and just adds useless cosmetic modifications? I guess we will never know.