Critical Play: Puzzles

Name of Game: Factory Balls

Creator: Bart Bonte

Platform: Browser, iOS, Android, Steam,, Kartridge

Target Audience: 10+

Formal Elements:

Factory Balls is a ‘ball physics’ themed problem-solving game. The objective is for the player to design a ball to match a customer’s order, and the complexity increases over time. The gameplay is individual vs game. There are set actions the player can undertake; the player can proceed to apply certain actions (paint or objects) to the ball, working through different combinations until the ball matches the desired specifications. The game is contained within the browser, and the only constraint towards advancing a level is if the puzzle is solved – there are no additional time or other constraints. This game also fits the definition for what makes a good puzzle – it uses a toy, following a narrative (make correct painted ball for customer), providing players with a goal.

Intended Fun:

Factory Balls incorporates Challenge and Submission types of fun. Due to the nature of this game as a puzzle, the game presents players with challenges, eliciting the Challenge method of fun. This is further supported by the design that puzzles get more complex as the game progresses. There is a component of Submission type of fun as well – while thinking is required to accomplish the puzzles, applying first principal thinking allows the player to breaking actions down into required steps that broadly apply, following which should solve all puzzles encountered.


I found this game enjoyable. The first few levels required little thinking, but the challenge elevated after that. I found myself initially randomly applying actions that looked correct without much forethought. As the game progressed, I realized that there was a general method of progressing that allowed me to paint the balls in the desired manner on the first time, which was thinking about balls from the first/lowest level of paint to the last/highest level of paint, and logical progressions in between. This constituted a particular moment of success, however, this triumph quickly waned as the game proceeded to become boring because the game no longer presented a great challenge. I don’t think that there is an easy fix to improve the game to prevent this from occurring; after breaking actions down with first order principles, the puzzle was no longer challenging, and turned into a game exhibiting Submission type of fun. The game attempted to fix this by incorporating different actions (grass and flowers – see below) that could be applied to the ball and required a set order to be correct, but this did not meaningfully increase challenge. Incorporating multiple balls would provide more challenge, but I believe that this could also rather quickly lose its challenge in a similar manner to commentary above.

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