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When is a table perfect for you?

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  • When is a table perfect for you?

    Not one of the existing tables are perfect for me and this is also not really an easy question because there are so many factors at play and most are subjective. When I look at a table and decide if it is a good table or not I consider the following (from least important to most important for me):

    - Music (usually have it off anyway)
    - Theme (Character) and story
    - Aesthetics
    - Colour Scheme
    - Sounds
    - Table Layout
    - Rule Sheet
    - Scoring Balance

    For me it is especially the last three that make or break a table because they in the end determine the fun factor and longevity of the table. I definitely prefer the medium to hard tables. The tables I love the most are tables such as Pasha, Biolab and Blade where there is a nice flow to the table but where there is also a steep learning curve. They reward you for playing strategically (e.g. extra balls, kickbacks etc.) but punishes you severely for only a brief break in concentration e.g. you pay for bricked shots. They push you as a player to get better and it is so rewarding once (if ) you finally "beat" the table.

    I'm now very happy with my Pasha score and feel that I have now "beaten" the table... it is around the 6th or 7th time that I have gone back to the table compared to Paranormal where I will never go back to or Sorcerer's Lair and Ms. Splosion man where I will maybe go back 1 or at most 2 more times. What I mean with going back, is each time I take on the challenge to try and improve my high score (or a friend challenge - Thanks Zuprichy ). It is amazing when you go back to a table because it can demonstrate; how you have grown as a FX 2 player, are able to get things right which you couldn't previously manage, recognise better strategic scoring opportunities and are suddenly able to keep the ball alive longer without apparently more effort.

    Using Pasha as an example; I can't remember exactly but I think my scoring progression went something like: 20mil (first week), 100mil (2 months), 200mil (3 months), 350mil (5 months), 750mil (10 months), 950mil (1 year) and 2.8 bil (1 year and 1 month) - I'm really pleased about my final score if you can't tell . Each time I managed a new score, I always felt that, that was the most I could achieve at that moment with my current skill level and understanding of the table. With most of the earlier tables before Mars, I had a similar progression. With Blade I am now feeling the need (and that it is possible) for me to try and break a Billion (950mil current score). With new tables the scoring progression is obviously (and luckily) different because as your skill level improves, you are able to go through the progression in a much shorter time, but it is still there.

    To bring this back to the question I posed. Such a scoring progression is only possible if the table layout, rule sheet and scoring balance is such that the table is "tough" enough that you have to work hard at keeping the ball alive and scoring extra balls etc. and that there are no score spamming opportunities. For example Paranormal "fails" on all accounts, with the too many extra balls, magna save and ever building jackpots. Fantastic 4 is the one table I have not been able to properly play (because of the glitches) that I am very keen to play in depth because I feel Zen has the balance right with more than one scoring approach (missions or multi-balls or combination), nothing spammable, extra balls not too easy to get (especially all 6), NZ ballsaver very nice to have but quite a mission to get and some spots where if you lose concentration you can very quickly lose the ball from a bricked shot.

    So... I have tried to explain when and why a table is getting close to being perfect for me. Do you agree or is there other factors at play for you? I feel discussions like these are very important and hopefully interesting for Zen to read so that they can better understand what the community want out of their tables.
    Last edited by Cloda; 11-12-2011, 07:00 PM. Reason: Clarified some thoughts
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  • #2
    For me, it's a combination of elements.

    Some tables have excellent production values and inherent design (e.g. Captain America) but are let down by its difficulty curve (or lack of one).

    The theme is very important to me. If Earth Defense didn't have its particular theme, I doubt I'd play it as much. I'm sure Rome is a decent table, but the theme doesn't do much for me. OTOH, I gave Rocky and Bullwinkle the benefit of the doubt (when it didn't really deserve it) simply because of the theme.

    Similarly, artwork is very important. Iron Man screams "boring" and "linear" (which is truth in advertising!) whereas Paranormal says "interesting".

    Pasha has a great overall package, with a good scoring curve, but is hampered by its mini games and an unforgiving core shot. It's not so much difficult, as random. Randomness is a killer in game design; it makes the player feel powerless, subject to forces outside his control. (Of course, some randomness is good, but not in a core shot like Oasis.)

    And even some of the best tables can have severe design flaws (e.g. the multiplier mechanism in SotD). So, there's no one perfect table for me.


    But the most fun I have with a table is when it's brand new, and I know nothing about it. I've been deliberately not going for shots on new tables, just so I can extend that feeling for a while.
    Last edited by Womble; 11-12-2011, 09:52 AM.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Womble View Post
      For me, it's a combination of elements.

      The theme is very important to me.

      Similarly, artwork is very important.

      Pasha has a great overall package, with a good scoring curve, but is hampered by its mini games and an unforgiving core shot. It's not so much difficult, as random. Randomness is a killer in game design; it makes the player feel powerless, subject to forces outside his control. (Of course, some randomness is good, but not in a core shot like Oasis.)

      And even some of the best tables can have severe design flaws (e.g. the multiplier mechanism in SotD). So, there's no one perfect table for me.

      But the most fun I have with a table is when it's brand new, and I know nothing about it. I've been deliberately not going for shots on new tables, just so I can extend that feeling for a while.
      Thanks Womble for the input.

      As I said, theme doesn't really make a difference to me in the long run. It might in the beginning with a 4 pack as I will then play the one that is most familiar/looks the best first but eventually I'll play all of them and the ones I play the most will be the ones that are best balanced etc.

      I agree with the randomness as sometimes being very frustrating. Random awards on the other hand is good, but there has to be some risk involved in getting the random award else you'll just repeat it in short succession until you get what you want e.g. Paranormal clairvoyance award. The Rome side Romulus head shot felt random for me for quite a while, but for some or other reason it started clicking at some point and felt more under my control. Pasha Oasis shot never felt random for me... I guess I was just lucky because its sounds like a lot of good players just can't ever get comfortable with it. The Guards mini-game is the one that felt very random to me, but I have gotten much better at it, so it can't be that random

      It grieves me that Zen Studios (hopefully not on purpose ) allows modes/missions to be built into tables that takes a lot of effort to get right (and which they put a lot of effort in to design) but actually don't matter one bit with regards to getting to wizard mode or to get a high score. Some bad examples in my opinion that I can think of now is: Howlers on Captain America, SotD multiplier as you mentioned and Mutations on Biolab.

      I'm a bit different on new tables.. I try to explore each mission and mode as soon as I can because I'm always very interested to see how the scoring works.
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      Cloda's somewhat vain and sort of self-indulgent thread

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      • #4
        I guess what makes a table perfect for me is -
        • Good Overall Theme - Colours don't bleed into eachother etc
          Good Scoring Mechanics
          The more Mulitball modes the better
          Missions which are unique to each other and you are rewarded for completion
          Wizard Modes which are challenging without being to long


        Its actually hard for me to explain for some reason, for me I find Sorcerers lair perfect but that has that thing of you can get to wizard mode without even completing the Missions yet there is a fail safe in terms of by completing Missions you get Obsidians which increase score.

        In saying that nothing in this world is perfect, you will always find something and it will never be universely perfect. Perfection is really about doing all the Little things right, if you think about it.
        Last edited by ShoryukenToTheChin; 11-13-2011, 06:34 PM.
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        • #5
          What I look for in a good table:

          1) The best way to get a highscore should be reaching and completing the wizard mode. Few tables seem to manage this - Blade and Iron Man are the ones that spring to mind. Rome would be included if it wasnt for the Romulus multiball.

          I dont understand why many tables let you repeat missions on the way to the wizard mode, is that a feature of real life pinball?. Tables like Wolverine and SotD would be improved imo if you couldnt spam Sentinel and Mine multiball.

          2) I want a challenge. I dont want to see the 30g achievement for at least a week. I want to get so frustrated with it that when it finally happens I leap out of my chair and shout YESS!!!
          What I dont want is to get it after 30 minutes (Sorcerers Lair).

          3) Short games. A subjective term I know but 2 hours should be more than enough for even the longest game.

          4) I want lots of things to do but that are actually helpful in the ultimate objective of reaching the wizard mode - Blade gets this exactly right.
          Biolab is the opposite - lots of stuff to do but no point doing it.

          Thats about it really - the theme isnt too important to me and Ive never had a complaint about the graphics or sound effects in the FX2 tables.

          My main concern really is the recent trend for easier tables although to be fair Paranormal and Sorcerers Lair were 'legacy' tables. The Marvel 4 pack will be the acid test as to whether Zen are still going to cater to the players who crave another challenge like Ultimo!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Alipan View Post
            What I look for in a good table:

            1) The best way to get a highscore should be reaching and completing the wizard mode. Few tables seem to manage this - Blade and Iron Man are the ones that spring to mind. Rome would be included if it wasnt for the Romulus multiball.

            I dont understand why many tables let you repeat missions on the way to the wizard mode, is that a feature of real life pinball?. Tables like Wolverine and SotD would be improved imo if you couldnt spam Sentinel and Mine multiball.

            2) I want a challenge. I dont want to see the 30g achievement for at least a week. I want to get so frustrated with it that when it finally happens I leap out of my chair and shout YESS!!!
            What I dont want is to get it after 30 minutes (Sorcerers Lair).

            3) Short games. A subjective term I know but 2 hours should be more than enough for even the longest game.

            4) I want lots of things to do but that are actually helpful in the ultimate objective of reaching the wizard mode - Blade gets this exactly right.
            Biolab is the opposite - lots of stuff to do but no point doing it.

            Thats about it really - the theme isnt too important to me and Ive never had a complaint about the graphics or sound effects in the FX2 tables.

            My main concern really is the recent trend for easier tables although to be fair Paranormal and Sorcerers Lair were 'legacy' tables. The Marvel 4 pack will be the acid test as to whether Zen are still going to cater to the players who crave another challenge like Ultimo!
            Wow...I saved a lot of writing time... Same here about everything!
            "The heart reveals what smiles betray" - Rise against

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            • #7
              Good times!

              Good Times, Fun, Laughs, Excitement, Challenges...
              Art, Music, Technology...

              You put your left flip up
              you put your left flip down
              you put your left filp up
              and you bounce the ball around
              You do the hokey pinball and the laughs and jokes abound

              THAT's What IT's ALL ABOUT !!

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              • #8
                Personally, I only care about pure gameplay; decent rulesets, good layouts, flow, challenge, and/or fun missions are all I need. Everything else is a bonus.

                The rulesets in all of Zen's tables aren't as good as real pinball tables, but the table quality got better around the time Earth Defense was launched. The past tables were lacking in flow and felt outdated, kinda like a poor-man's Pinball Dreams with multiball, but still enjoyable enough for a playthrough. Oddly enough, the Classic Pack, Nightmare Manision, Street Fighter II Turbo, and Rocky and Bullwinkle feel worse in Pinball FX 2 than in 1.
                Last edited by HardcorePinballGamer4Life; 11-15-2011, 02:00 AM.

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