Critical Play: Puzzles (Factory Balls)

Factory Balls is developed by Bart Bonte and played on web.

The target audience is for ages 8 and above who like solving puzzles and playing short games with increasingly levels of difficulties.

The formal elements of the game include:

  • Single player game. The player is tasked with solving the levels alone.
  • Objective: find a solution. The player must solve each level of the puzzle before advancing to the next level. The solution consists of replicating the image of the ball using a blank balls and the ability to paint the ball by dipping it in paint and using various props.
  • Outcomes: the series of puzzles is a 25-level challenge, after which the player wins the game.
  • Game mechanics: UI buttons for selecting actions to take, Various ways balls are coloured by paint, Various ways balls interact with objects that are different

Type of fun game intended, and if it met its goals:

The fun is particularly Challenge. Each level gets progressively more difficult, increasing the level of challenge over the game. The objective of finding a solution adds to the challenge aspect. The use of the same rules across all levels adds to the idea of challenge, since the focus in increasing the challenge of the game within the same parameters and boundaries. Another aspect of fun is the aesthetic pleasure of the game. The ability to see the visual elements of the ball change by your actions is satisfying from a visual point of view. This aspect of fun was fulfilled as the player was able to directly interact with colour (the paint) and the shape (the objects) of the ball.

Moments of particular success or epic fails:

I think the game is particularly successful for its simple, colourful and intuitive UI and graphic system. The graphic design style is minimalist yet the colours make it full of expression: it is silly and at the same time quite elegant. Visually, the graphics in the game and on the thumbnails are vibrant, well-designed, and easy to pick out all the elements.

I think epic fails occur when the player makes a small mistake and needs to redo their creation of the ball. This can be frustrating, and adds nothing to the experience as the player is following in their previous steps from the beginning, with the blank ball.

Things you would change to make the game better:

An undo button would relieve the frustration of having to recreate the ball if a careless mistake occurs. I think adding a time limit would add to the urgency and challenge of the game, and encourage players to pay attention to the game instead of clicking away.

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