Projects in Motion

For the past few weeks, I've been trying to build a little computer pinball game. I enjoy playing pinball--though I'm terrible at it--and I'm fascinated by how combining and arranging several basic play systems within a constrained physical environment can provide such a wide variety of interesting experiences. I searched the web for build-your-own-pinball software, but couldn't find anything suitable. There are a couple of full-featured 3D community-supported pinball simulation packages out there, but they're aimed more at hardcore users who are willing to suffer through complex and painful configuration and installation processes. I wanted a tool I could use to build an easy-to-install pinball game without any worries about licensing or dependencies.

The game development system I've settled on is Godot. Licensing for Godot is attractive--free to use and free to distribute your projects--and the software itself is open-source. It comes with a level editor and physics engine, which means it's easy for me to just plunk down game objects on the screen and configure them to bounce around the screen. The challenge, of course, is getting the motion of the ball just right. I'm still tweaking parameters like gravity and bounce and inertia to get the game to feel more or less like a proper pinball game.

For game assets, I'm using Inkscape to draw table elements and I'm using Krita to create pixel art for my simulated dot-matrix display. These are both open source projects, and they're both fantastic.

As of now, my game isn't as pretty as I'd like, but it's functional. From this point I need to work on a list of bug fixes and subject the game to a bunch of testing to confirm that all my special events and mini-games are working as expected. I'm hoping this breaks a long streak of me starting to write computer games and never finishing them.

Screenshot of a digital pinball game

Mary Lynn and Pam have made substantial progress on their own project: the aquaponics system in the greenhouse.

Photo of growing beds connected by PVC water pipes

The bell siphon is correctly draining and filling the grow beds, and a bunch of stuff is already planted. The fish aren't living here yet, but that's coming soon.

To close this blog post, here's a morning bike ride photo that would make Clark Kent homesick:

Farm buildings under a morning sky

And an evening bonfire under the moon:

People gathered around a bonfire by moonlight

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