For this week’s critical play, I chose to play Factory Balls Forever which is an installment of the Factory Balls deseries which was created by Bontegames and released on December 11, 2019. The Factory Balls series are a series of games which were created by Bart Bonte back in 2007. (Source: https://bartbonte.com/). For this critical play, I played on the Bart Bonte website at the following link: https://www.bartbonte.com/factoryballsforever/.
Based on the app store, Factory Balls is rated for players ages 4+. The game is a very intuitive game that doesn’t require outside knowledge and can be completed by trial and error which is why I believe it has this rating. To speak more about the game, it is a single player game where the player is given a gray ball in the center of their screen. Beneath the ball is a box with an image of the design the player is tasked with creating along with various tools (eg. paint buckets, belts, hats, seeds, and water) which are around the ball. The player can click on any of these tools and it will apply their change to the ball in the center giving immediate visual feedback. Each level or round is a different design to be created and player’s automatically move onto the next level/round once they successfully create the design (the ball is then automatically dropped into the box).
As the game progresses and the designs become more complex like the following photo, the player has to use their resources wisely which is an interesting formal element challenge. Luckily Bonte added an additional resource, the recycling bin, which allows the player to start from scratch and reattempt their approach if they make a mistake. I haven’t ever found a similar game to Factory Balls, if anything, I believe that games would try to copy Factory Balls. The game is simply so simplistic and has a good difficulty progression that differentiates it from any games remotely similar to it.
Overall, I believe that the game was fun. It’s a different kind of sensation as this is a puzzle game, so it won’t be the same type of fun as say a Minecraft, however the challenges that the game brings are enjoyable, especially in the satisfaction that comes when you successfully create the design.
A particular moment which was both an epic success and epic failure was the work that I did to complete level 18. All in all, I believe it took me 19 minutes to complete level 18 as there would be a number of times when I was so close to finishing the design, but would accidentally erase parts of the design that I had worked hard on, causing me to have to start the level from scratch about four or five times until I finally solved it (yay!).
Although the premise of the game is the same (painting balls to match the intended design), the number of different available tools that get added as the game goes on keeps the game exciting. For the gameplay, I think that it correctly balanced this simplicity while keeping the game entertaining. If anything, I would add a hint system possibly to help with more difficult designs, so potentially as you solve levels you get a number of points which you can then use later to unlock small hints.