Production on CartoonSmart’s Pinball Tutorials and Starter Kit Begins
A few years back I created some Cocos2d-based Pinball games, inspired by some example code in one of Steffen Itterheim’s books. So now I’m excited to bring things full circle and give back a little of what I took from Steffen and teach not only the setup to a pinball game, but also craft what I think will be a great tvOS and iOS Starter Kit for our loyal students here at CartoonSmart. So for a couple weeks, we’ll focus on teaching a Swift 2 and Sprite Kit tutorial physics tutorial, which leans heavily on pinball style dynamics. Obviously we’ll integrate, flippers, bumpers, ramps, plungers (that mechanism that knocks the ball into the main table), but I think we can have some added fun by dropping in the myriad of physics objects that Sprite Kit gives, things like gravity fields, spring fields, turbulence fields, velocity fields, vortex fields and so on. And then once the tutorial is in the bag, I’ll work on wrapping it all up into a nice easy to use Starter Kit (incorporating external controllers, start menus, track playlists, property lists, etc). So by the end of this, our subscribers will have little to do other than making a great table to play on and submit it to Apple.
One of my favorite documentaries ever is Special When Lit. When I was making my previous pinball apps, I pretty much had this movie on a continuous loop in iTunes (it’s surprisingly loop-able). It’s a beautiful, philosophical, and sad documentary. Sad because obviously pinball has long since had its heyday in our culture. Think about this: from 1955-1970 pinball machines made more money than the entire American movie industry. So that’s like an industry wiped out. But for those of us that love pinball, we’ll have to resort to keeping it alive however we can. And I believe what makes pinball a great game can transcend to app-form.
With that said, I’ve played some bad pinball apps. Even made some bad ones depending on who you ask (the first few versions of my App store pinball games were universally berated for the flippers moving too slow). So I’ll have to challenge myself to- well, not suck at this. And start watching Special When Lit over and over again, because damnit, I don’t have the money for an actual pinball machine to reference.
And for all the naysayers that think pinball can never fully transition to digital, here’s my evidence against that…
I played that on the original NES for what felt like days at a time with my cousin. There was just something addicting to it: the epic loss of a ball on a potential high score breaking game, the silly repetitive sounds, trying to flip all 5 cards to open a portal to the bonus level. I want to play that game again right now!
I think where many pinball apps fail is in trying to be too realistic to their source material. Most of the 3D pinball apps tend to make me a little sick, unless I can tilt the view to be directly overhead and simulate a more 2D view. Which I suppose is good because this kit will be in 2D. But that can look 3D-ish with the right art.
So anyway, wish me luck folks. I’m starting a new Xcode project called: Pinball.