June 6, 2006 : 6:40 PM

Pingball: A case study of sorts


Pingball Final, View my Flickr stream here.

We've just completed our first Pinball game for Artie Lange's Beer League movie.



Note: Works best on IE PC due to processor restrictions. Firefox is just too slow.

Here’s some more info on how the game was made and how it came about. We’re very proud of this game at Soap and had spent an extra 2 weeks over deadline polishing it up. Luckily the client had already pished back the release of the film so there was no pressure to get it out quickly.

The brief that came to us was to do a game to promote Beer League. A film starring Artie Lange (who we later found out was on the Howard Stern show so that’s the big draw card). The only requirement was that it contained the image or reference to “The Pitching Machine” which is from a funny scene in the movie. See below.

Beer League Supplied Photo

After throwing around initial ideas for a baseball type game, or a target shooting one Brad threw in the idea of a pinball game. Usually I say as they are almost impossible to code properly in flash but the idea fitted so well. When brad said to have the girls legs as flippers when knew that was it. We actually didn’t pitch any other ideas to the client. It was this or nothing.

Brad’s initial sketch

Poonball Concept Sketch

The client loved it (dream client, dream brief) and we proceeded forward. We had a backup plan to just create a tween version of a pinball game, meaning no code just everything would be animated and random to give the illusion of a real pinball. It was a cop out but our fail safe.

Luckily our new flash dude Chris was eager to get started and this was his first project with us. We found a Flash Phsics Engine which would help build a pinball game and from there it all went smoothly.

The hardest part was finalizing the game play as pinball’s are quite complex creatures and although they seem simple they aren’t. You not only have to make it work but make it fun.

We bought the Pinball Hall of Fame for PSP to practice up and learn from the masters and there is plenty of pinball info online too.

(Nerd Fact: when I was in highschool I played pinball all the time at the arcade. I actually joined the Pinball League which met once a week to play in a comp. I have a 1 Billion Point Trophy (which I didn’t really earn) and my fav pinball’s are Adam’s Family, Creature from the Black Lagoon and Indiana Jones) My dream was to always own a pinball at home and hopefully oneday that will still come true.

There was only one problem with the design of the game and that was the client though “The Pitching Machine” girl looked like an amputee. Which in the Howard Stern type audience isn’t really a problem but we had to tweak the flippers slightly to have shoes.
We also went through 3 versions of the girl. V1 was, thankfully) never seen by the client. V2 looked a little ugly and v3 was just right.

Pitching Machine Versions

Oh and we had to add the glove appearing to pick up the ball as it came back down. They didn’t want it “going back into her”


You can see in Robs initial game play sketch that was used for the game design the girl looked like Jessica Rabbit.

Pingball Sketches 5: Final

We also added a mini game with Artie chugging a beer, which Chris did while waiting for approval on other game elements.

Minigame Artie Lange

I think Artie himself would be flattered with this vector version of himself. As he gets older maybe we can do a cartoon based on him 

Design wise you can see version 1 shown below

PingBall Design v1

was expanded on for version 3 shown below.

PingBall Design v3

The film also stars Ralph Macchio the Karate Kid! It must be in his contract not to mention it as not hint is made in the film.

The only sad part for us was that no new audio was recorded for the game. We sent a list of what we wanted but only get edits from the film. Oh and that we didn’t get to do the main movie site as it’s a little rough around the edges.

The game is as un PC as they come and it was great just being able to throw what ever you wanted into an idea and the client liking it. I’ve never said “douche bag” or “fuck nuts” so much in my career.

You can see the other sketches and designs from the project on this flickr set.


Posted at June 6, 2006 : 6:40 PM
Archived in: Work Stuff