Critical Play: Puzzles

Name of game, creator, platform

I chose to play Factory Balls for this critical play. The game is developed by Bart Bonte and it is available on the web, steam, or mobile devices. Overall I had a good time playing the game. I also notice even though the difficulty increases as the level increases but as I got more familiar with the game I was able to identify patterns that helped me solve each level faster. 

Target audience (as best you can discover from research or the games messaging)

I think the target audience is people who enjoy solving puzzles and looking for patterns. The game itself and its mechanics are very straightforward. However, it does take some analytical thinking to solve the puzzles (cannot rely on luck) thus I don’t think the game is suitable for kids. 

Formal elements of the game: 

Players: The game involves one player who plays the role of the factory worker. The format is player vs game since the player needs to complete the challenges to advance through the levels.

Objectives: On the box, there is a picture of what the final product should look like and the worker needs to recreate the design using the available paint and tools. 

Outcomes: The outcome of the game is the player completes the puzzle and moves on to the next level. However, if the player

Rules: The rule of this game is that the player can only use the tools provided within a specified level.

Procedures: In each level, the player has the ability to make various combinations using the tools provided in order to complete the package’s end product.

Resources: The player has access to various tools in the given level that they can use to create the desired pattern. Some of the tools include belts, hats, and goggles. These tools can be used to cover an area of the ball with certain paint colors. 

What kind of fun? How do the elements of the game lead it to be fun/compelling?

The game is a “challenge” game where the main goal is to solve the puzzle to move on to the next level. To accomplish the desired pattern, you must utilize more and more brainpower as the game advances. There are no huge consequences if the player makes a mistake they can always restart the game or paint over the current design. In addition, there’s no time limit either. However, they won’t be able to move to the next level. The temptation to play and keep playing originates from the escapism it provides players. 

Why does this game work? How could it be improved?

 If I were to modify anything about the game, I’d add more narrative to create a storyline so the game can be more immersive. Aside from that, the game mechanics are quite entertaining and engaging.

Compare the game you chose to other games in its genre. What differentiates it from the other games? Is it better/worse? How so?

Compare to other games (such as Tengami), the UI design of this game is very menial and early 2000s. I personally like this design choice as it allowed the players to focus on the game. I enjoy the animation of the ball being packed into a box and shipped away when the level is completed. It insinuates a rewarding feeling. It’s also exciting to observe how different methods, like belts and paint, are put on the ball. Overall the game does not put emphasis on immersivness. I was personally fine with that. I do see others being more found of better animations and atmospheric adventure games. 

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