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History of the Pinball Construction Set

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the games-two-point-oh-started-in-the-eighties dept.

Classic Games (Games) 32

Matt Barton writes "I thought you all might enjoy our article on the history of Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Set, a key progenitor to LittleBigPlanet and other games that enable users to generate their own shareable content. The article is heavily illustrated and covers the game's precedents as well as those it influenced (Bard's Tale Construction Set, Racing Destruction Set, etc.) Budge said, 'I was exposed to GUIs at Apple, and I had the pinball simulation from Raster Blaster. I saw that it would be a small step to do a construction set. This was the kind of program I liked, since there was no game to write. But it was a lot of work, since I had to implement file saving, a mini sound editor and a mini paint program.'"

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32 comments

If only.... (2, Interesting)

278MorkandMindy (922498) | more than 5 years ago | (#26762523)

... you could "bump" the side of your computer to make that "impossible" shot.

Quite an interesting study of physics, how a sharp bump can move the entire machine just enough to hit the ball, yet still foil the anti bump devices.

Re:If only.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26762555)

Merry Christmas [amazon.com]

One of the best damn games on the Wii.

Re:If only.... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26804375)

Merry Christmas [amazon.com]

One of the best damn games on the Wii.

I managed to get that game stuck in an unplayable situation where the camera was no longer focused on the playfield. Persistently. Across all the tables. I don't recall now what I had to do to get it working again.

Re:If only.... (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 5 years ago | (#26762931)

Often these games used keyboard input and unlike a simple game controller there could be a bump key, one on each side; A and L, for instance. Occasion use was required to achive a high score, but too much use would trigger a tilt.

The iPhone might make more realstic bumping possible.

And yes, I am old enough to remember. I was maybe 25 when this game appeared. No, I am not dead yet.

Re:If only.... (1)

Arkhan (240130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766439)

If only you could "bump" the side of your computer to make that "impossible" shot.

If memory serves at all, you could in fact do this with the original Bill Budge construction set.

In addition to flipper keys, it had a "bump left", "bump right", and "bump up" key, that simulated bumping the machine in those directions.

If you overused the bump feature, the machine would tilt.

Obviously, you couldn't control the force of the bump or the precise angle, but he did actually think to include that key feature of "real" pinball.

wow (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26762531)

I just watched the CC episode about it of archive.org.... someone was clearly thinking the same thing (yet to rtfa though)

Blast from the past (2, Insightful)

yotto (590067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26762729)

I absolutely LOVED Pinball Construction Set when I was a kid. I had it on my Apple //c in probably '84 or '85 and I made so many pinball games on it.

I also loved Lode Runner for the same reason: User created levels. Too bad back then it was just me and one other friend doing the "sharing."

Good times. Good times.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763227)

their was a jumpman version and a wizard (some ripoff of jumpman) that had a level editor. Also I totally forgot about visual pinball, this is by far the epitomy of the pinball game genre.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

Chysn (898420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763229)

Wow, thanks for reminding me of Lode Runner.

The Ancient Art of War was another fun game with a user level generator. I used to try to create maps of real places.

Re:Blast from the past (2, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763587)

I too loved Lode Runner, I had all three (or were there more?) releases of it. The level editor was a ton of fun. We'd stay after school working on our levels, and testing them of course. The computer teacher forbid computer games in her lab during school, but man you have to TEST those levels you're programming y'know!

We also hacked the levels on the included discs to allow editing of course plus a lot more. That game had a simple but effective AI for the enemies. The only bug I remember is you could run halfway up a ladder and stop, and it would drive all of the opponents to the highest ground available. (until you moved)

I never got into PBCS but I do remember it.

I made a level that no one besides me could finish. It was full of traps of various types that all required a special trick of sort to solve. The final trick involved luring an opponent into picking up the last piece of gold, dropping him into a hole he could not get out of, and going to a specific place and making a hole with the right timing that he'd die of a cave-in. Picking up the last piece of gold usually caused a ladder to the top to appear, but it had the same effect if an enemy died of a cave-in that was carrying the last piece of gold. You could escape, but only if the hole was already made, but one ladder appeared OVER the hole you had to have dug in advance. (since you cannot dig under ladders) Since holes filled in shortly after being dug, you had to do all this with careful timing

Re:Blast from the past (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763593)

I liked Pinball Construction Set, but since my brother had a real pinball (he still has that game, along with a couple dozen others now), it seemed weak.

Pinball on computer is never quite right. I think the reason is that they don't model the spin of the ball.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

schwillis (1073082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763775)

Try visual pinball, it models ball spin, and is by far the most realistic pinball game ever. Also you can get pretty much every pinball table ever made, It's fun downloading the old school pinball (and various other mechanical games) that are way before my time.

Re:Blast from the past (2, Informative)

himurabattousai (985656) | more than 5 years ago | (#26764311)

Even so, there's a certain feel that doesn't come easily (or at all) on the computer. A set of buttons can only go so far in recreating the whole experience of pinball. Still, Visual Pinball kicks stupendous amounts of ass, especially when you start building your own tables. If you built a proper VP cabinet, it just might be better than the real thing.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26765021)

Yeah! Me too. I wished I kept my saved levels. I lost them, but then I also don't have a disk drive to port to emulators. :( I never really shared my levels. I didn't have BBS and Internet back then.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

riffraff (894) | more than 5 years ago | (#26765229)

Yes, these were cool games. I had Pinball Construction Set, Racing Destruction Set, and Lode Runner on my Commodore 64. I made about 150 levels of my own for Lode Runner; I almost filled a disk. I made quite a few pinball games and racing levels too. That was the most fun.

Re:Blast from the past (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766091)

Hi. I don't know who you are, but I'd like my childhood back.

No, seriously-- the PCS and Lode Runner kept my friends and I absolutely glued to the old IIc and its semi-sorta-portable monochrome monitor while we created absolutely degenerate and broken maps.

I'll never forget the time we were abusing the physics in PCS. Well, not that we didn't do that all the time, but this time we broke it. "It's stuck!" I cried, of one of the dozen balls on the screen. "It's embedded!" my friend exclaimed.

We really had no idea what we were doing-- beyond coded objects like bumpers and kickers, there was a system for making solid barriers out of simple polygons, using graphical tools that could add, delete or modify corners, and a full-blown embedded paint program for drawing designs on the play field. Despite being utterly overwhelmed by the depth of the construction set, we experimented and goofed around like nobody's business. No real manual, no warnings about broken builds, just exploration.

Play it online right now... (5, Informative)

waxcrash (604628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763305)

You can play it right now with this Apple II Java emulator... http://www.virtualapple.org/pinballconstructionsetdisk.html [virtualapple.org]

Re:Play it online right now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26771755)

If by play you mean "listen to some kind of static, and move the hand left or right by pressing 'x' and no other key doing anything" then yes, you can play it.

RDS (1)

fox171171 (1425329) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763347)

Never played PCS, but Racing Destruction Set on the C-64 was a favorite of mine.

Racing Destruction Set (1)

AlpineR (32307) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763543)

I loved Racing Destruction Set too - so many hours spent playing. I was reminiscing about trying to play it in a C-64 emulator, but looking at the screenshots I realize that memory and imagination are probably more powerful than the actual bits.

I vaguely remember driving some really weird tracks with terrain types that didn't officially exist in the game. I think that was my first experience with sharing tracks and hacked editors (on Q-Link), many years ago.

EA (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763375)

Ahhh yes, the days when EA (which for some reason was EOA in their logo) actually made innovative games (though I guess at this point, they were already acting in the role of publisher for other developers). I remember screwing around with Pinball Construction Set and Music Construction Set for hours when I was a kid. And when we got sick of the shiny graphics, we'd go fire up an Infocom text adventure...

Re:EA (1)

JamesM77 (179929) | more than 5 years ago | (#26763471)

The original logo was actually just meant to be a square, circle, and triangle (the base components of graphic design), they were rasterized to imply the high tech nature of the business. The resemblance to letters in the company name was a coincidence.

Get VP9 + VPINMAME (3, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26766381)

Re:Get VP9 + VPINMAME (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 5 years ago | (#26783991)

http://www.vpforums.org/

http://www.pinballnirvana.com/ [pinballnirvana.com]

It should be noted that VPForums.ORG is not the official forums (which until the server died, was VPForums.COM). The ORG site is run by someone trying to capitalize on the confusion - it was only created very recently (when the COM site went down). In fact, the community is quite hostile against it because of the confusion factor - it looks official, but isn't, especially since it popped up quickly after COM died.

Stick with the Pinball Nirvana site instead - most of the COM members have moved somewhat over there.

Other games worth mentioning (1)

Crass Spektakel (4597) | more than 5 years ago | (#26770367)

Yeah I still remember PCS but I played a lot more "Racing Destruction Set" which is still a very formidable game though it has its lengths.

Also I remember "Lode Runner" and "Mister Robot and his Facroty" and lets not forget "Seven Cities of Gold" (though you had little control over your random world there were editors available for fine manipuation) and others...

Prime time cameo for Raster Blaster (1)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 5 years ago | (#26771689)

I remember a "Simon and Simon" episode (early 80's) that featured a whiz kid with an Apple II Plus. The plot focused on his hacking abilities, but he was also shown playing Raster Blaster. It was one of those self-conscious "Hey, check out this technology" moments. At the time, it was pretty novel to be able to play such a high-fidelity simulation on a home computer. I would love to see that episode again...I'm sure it would be hilarious.

Re:Prime time cameo for Raster Blaster (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26806103)

I remember a "Simon and Simon" episode (early 80's) that featured a whiz kid with an Apple II Plus. The plot focused on his hacking abilities, but he was also shown playing Raster Blaster.

Simon & Simon had a crossover with the short-lived series Whiz Kids [imdb.com], with first A.J. Simon appearing on a Whiz Kids story [imdb.com], then the two brothers visiting Richie Adler in a Simon & Simon episode [imdb.com]. One or both of these may be what you're remembering.

While Simon & Simon is being released on DVD, there's no sign of Whiz Kids being released. I hope they at least include the crossover Whiz Kids episode with Season 3 of Simon & Simon.

Adventure Construction Set (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26773899)

Who could forget other greats like "Adventure Construction Set"? Even today there are tons of apps other there that either appear dead similar or very close. From FPS and 'new' adventure sets, to RPG makers and on.

I've always wondered how many current gaming authors cut their teeth on these things when we were all younger.

For the record... (2, Interesting)

hitchhacker (122525) | more than 5 years ago | (#26774915)

.. and some karma whoring. Archive.org has a 1984 demo/interview with Budge [archive.org] on Computer Chronicles. A quick youtube search finds it here also [youtube.com]. That guy from EA still creeps me out... as does the space shuttle guy.

-metric

Re:For the record... (1)

Psychochild (64124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26781833)

That guy from EA still creeps me out...

You mean Trip Hawkins? Funny enough, he's a lot more easy-going there than when he was at 3DO later.

PCS upgrader (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#26806195)

I loved Pinball Construction Set so much that when I learned how games worked on the Apple II series I wanted to create an upgrader for PCS games to convert them not only to ProDOS-compatible games but also upgrade the graphics to Apple IIgs graphics. Since every game converted to standalone was exactly the same size, I figured that it would just be a matter of converting the raster graphics images, the playfield image, and the lookup table to make it work, while any excess screen space would be mine to do with as I pleased.

Alas, like my other dreams of upgrading Apple II games to Apple IIgs games, college education got in the way long enough to extinguish those plans. I never got around to doing a complete disassembly like I'd done with Sabotage [wikipedia.org]. Well, not having a 65c816 assembler was also got in the way.

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