Ludum Dare 41: TASball

“TASball” by Amos Wenger.

“[A] tool-assisted pinball / clicker / programming game hybrid. […] Wash windows and mow lawns to afford Pinball tournaments. Write AIs for Pinball tournaments to earn more money. Buy faster CPUs and more ROM with your money. Code golf your way to the fastest possible solution to earn the most money!”

“TASball” is the love child of programming games like “Human Resource Machine” and a pinball machine: Here you can not just control the movements of the left and right flipper in your own ‘algorithm’ on several pinball courses, but also change the movement frequency. This basic programming gameplay gets combined with the incremental clicker game genre, because whenever you played through a course in an efficient and fast manner, you gain some money. This money can be used to upgrade your CPU and ROM, which will allow you to alter the flipper movements in an even faster way and to add more code parts to your algorithm. But if you’re too lazy for that and want to get right into the gain, then you can also just wash windows or steal a car to collect some money in the beginning. Sounds confusing? Well, give it a try for yourself – it’s easier than you might think!

I see a huge potential in this game, even though the UI isn’t totally intuitive to use right now. I spent several hours with “TASball”, because I always wanted to get an even more efficient algorithm to reach all ‘special objects’ of a course. It’s also interesting that the game gives its players the freedom to alter an algorithm step by step even when the ball is already flying around (that could be described as the TAS / Tool-Assisted Speedrun part of the game) or to create it completely before, just to see how it will go (that could be described as the coding challenge part). I hope that Amos Wenger will release a post-jam version of this game with extended gameplay, some more polish and maybe a more ‘arcade-y’ vibe, because even as a ‘prototype’ of some sort it was weirdly addictive, and I can totally see myself playing it over and over again. Wonderful work! >>PLAY