Critical Play: Puzzles – Factory Balls Forever

I played Factory Balls Forever by Bart Bonte on Mac. The target audience seems to be roughly 10+. The objective of this one-player (we could categorize it as player vs game) is to paint a gray ball to match the given pattern each round.

The outcome can be thought of as zero-sum, since if the player can’t figure out a puzzle, the game “wins.” The player gets a gray ball each round as well as various paints and some objects. The player can then use the objects and paints (these could be considered the resources) in certain orders to make the desired pattern. For rules, the game only proceeds to the next round when the player solves the puzzle of painting the ball correctly. The boundary is the platform screen. The conflict can be thought of as the trickiness of each ball pattern.

The main type of fun intended is challenge. The game met its goal of bringing “challenge fun”; the rounds get progressively harder, so players will eventually be able to reach a point that challenges them enough for the game to be fun in the “challenge” way.

A moment of particular success was when I was initially stuck on a tricky round, but then was able to figure it out by trial and error. To make the game better, I think I would allow the player to be able to choose which puzzles to complete instead of making them go through rounds in order, because for me, after getting the hang of it for a few rounds, I wanted to really challenge myself by skipping ahead, but I was unable to do so because I had to follow the rounds in order. I think changing this potential flaw in the game will give the players more freedom to choose how challenging they want each round to be.

Various mechanics of the puzzle influence the experience of the game. The mechanic of having a different and creative design each round kept the game interesting and aesthetically appealing. Additionally, the mechanic of having the player use different objects and paints each round to solve the puzzle kept me engaged with the game as well. On the other hand, the mechanic of not being able to skip puzzle rounds was frustrating, because I eventually wanted to skip to harder rounds to challenge myself.

Overall, I enjoyed playing the game, and it taught me that the category of puzzle games is one of my favorites.

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