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Classic Games (Games) Entertainment Games

History of the Pinball Construction Set 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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History of the Pinball Construction Set

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  • If only.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    ... 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.

    • 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.

    • by Arkhan ( 240130 )

      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 "rea

  • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @05:57AM (#26762729) Homepage

    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.

    • 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.
    • by Chysn ( 898420 )

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by v1 ( 525388 )

        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

    • by Skater ( 41976 )

      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.

      • 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: (Score:3, Informative)

          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.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      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.

    • by riffraff ( 894 )

      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.

    • 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

  • by waxcrash ( 604628 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @09:21AM (#26763305)
    You can play it right now with this Apple II Java emulator... []
  • Never played PCS, but Racing Destruction Set on the C-64 was a favorite of mine.
    • 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.

  • 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...
    • 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 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joe The Dragon ( 967727 ) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @04:21PM (#26766381) [] []

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) []

      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 inste

  • 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...

  • 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.
    • by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

      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 [], with first A.J. Simon appearing on a Whiz Kids story [], then the two brothers visiting Richie Adler in a Simon & Simon episode []. 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.

  • For the record... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hitchhacker ( 122525 ) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @03:36PM (#26774915) Homepage
    .. and some karma whoring. has a 1984 demo/interview with Budge [] on Computer Chronicles. A quick youtube search finds it here also []. That guy from EA still creeps me out... as does the space shuttle guy.

    • 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.

  • 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

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein