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September 15, 2020 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Pincremental is a free online idle game that starts as a janky pinball sim and turns into a janky pinball automation sim.
posted by cortex (32 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
[sighs, opens a new tab, begins clicking.]
posted by ardgedee at 2:28 PM on September 15 [15 favorites]

FWIW this didn't work for me in Firefox.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:47 PM on September 15

It's a cute idea and I honestly quite like the concept, but it ruins itself slightly by having all the upgrade paths visible from the start. A lot of the interest of incrementals is not knowing when or how to unlock the next iteration or what the "plot" will end up being.
posted by Scattercat at 2:49 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]

Ah shoot, RobotVoodooPower. FWIW it's also available for free on Steam running as a standalone app.
posted by cortex at 2:53 PM on September 15

This is great, but I miss pinball sounds. Is it me or there are no sounds?

Also, this deserves a better genre than just incremental, there's more than just clicking and grinding. There's an endless action loop there. Reminds me of infinite scrolling pages and how they seemed nifty at the time; now we don't notice them anymore and they're just there, quietly destroying democracy. So maybe infinite action loop games can save it, who knows?
posted by Tom-B at 3:12 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

That's I think what I like so much about it, Tom-B! The standard incremental gubbins are, hey, whatever, but the fact that it's tied to a little independent mechanical simulation really pleases me and is ground I feel like hasn't been explored nearly enough in this genre. And pinball is a good fit: short, action-packed, a little chaotic, and easily automated.

So the fact that the pinball itself is rudimentary doesn't much matter; the idea is there and is strong enough to make me happy that this little fishbowl is running (and I love that it's a process of going from playing janky pinball actively to letting it play itself). I'd love to see someone do up a more satisfying treatment of the actual pinball aesthetics and maybe get more creative with exactly how automation works (maybe buy better reflexes/timing for your flippers, tilt mechanics, etc?) but even just as a sketch of an idea it has me pretty delighted this afternoon.
posted by cortex at 3:17 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]

The novelty about this clicker is not so much that it's got a pinball game in it as much as the core incrementing value is effectively the product of a random number generator. The number speeds up or slows down entirely by chance. It'll be interesting to see what future incrementals can do with that conceit.
posted by ardgedee at 3:48 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

Can I buy stronger flippers?
posted by bruinfan at 3:55 PM on September 15

It's kind of disheartening to watch the autoflippers autoflip poorly, note the mistakes they tend to make, then switch them off and note that you do consistently worse than they do.
posted by darksasami at 3:57 PM on September 15 [8 favorites]

Incidentally, the A and D keys can also control flippers.
posted by ardgedee at 3:57 PM on September 15

This is neat, but I was expecting more incremental upgrades that could be added to the playfield. Like do I max out on bumpers, or do I save up for a ramp or something.
posted by Kabanos at 4:02 PM on September 15 [3 favorites]

There's an interesting story behind this, additionally.
If you look at the Steam page, it notes Base pinball machine functionality developed and copyrighted by Will Boyd
That's a late addition, and a bit of an understatement. 2 years ago, Will Boyd, a developer currently at Square, did a talk at RevolutionConf 2018:
Exploring 2D Physics in JavaScript (Live Demos, Slides, GitHub) (sadly I can't seem to find video of the talk)

It included a demo of a pinball game in particular. CodePen, so it was tagged with an MIT license.

Fast forward to 2020, when he finds Pincremental. At the time, it had in-app purchases running up to $50 across iOS, Android, & Steam. Not what Will Boyd imagined when releasing a teaching aid, but the MIT license is permissive this way, so he didn't have ground to pull it. At the same time, having people go "This was yours? I sent him $20 on Kongregate!" is something to see.

Looking at the developer, Makopaz, 's other released games, there's a bit of a pattern there. Nothing illegal, but the moral of the story seems to be "There's good money in taking educational CodePen demos and bolting incremental mechanics & IAP onto them"
posted by CrystalDave at 4:28 PM on September 15 [15 favorites]

Oh huh. That's interesting and dispiriting, CrystalDave. But it also makes me feel less bad about the "what if I did my own thing of this in PICO 8" instincts, at least.
posted by cortex at 4:35 PM on September 15 [4 favorites]

That's exactly why I don't release code any more, except for systems-level tooling. I spend my time creating something clever/neat and some script kiddie comes along and bolts a monetizer on it, makes bank, and I'm supposed to pay my mortgage with the Good Feels from the MIT license? Yeah nah. At least once a week some bro asks me for the source code for my plotter file generators and I'm like, no, I sell the art this produces. Go learn some turtle graphics or something.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:08 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]

did my own thing of this in PICO 8

I'd buy that. Maybe some MeFi themes could be incorporated :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:18 PM on September 15

What, the endless clicking isn't close enough?
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:57 PM on September 15

My autopaddles do not work and it is vexing. But otherwise, fun (and a helpful tool for staying just focused enough during a long church council meeting)!
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:29 PM on September 15

After letting the game spin overnight it should have been generating almost $3/minute in arcade share revenue but ended up earning about five bucks? Something is hinky.
posted by ardgedee at 2:45 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Okay as far as I can tell the game increments by ticks rather than system clock, so if the browser is backgrounded or the system sleeps the game only progresses at a small fraction of its usual cadence, depending on the browser's own settings (which are hackable to a limited extent in Firefox and Chrome; afaict not at all in Edge or Safari).

That's dumb.
posted by ardgedee at 6:18 AM on September 16 [1 favorite]

My autopaddles do not work and it is vexing.

Did you turn them on?
They start in the off mode by default. There's a little button on the bottom right to turn them on.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:34 AM on September 16

Oh, I just bought some shares.
I quite like the mechanic that each stage requires a reset, but it also effectively plays the previous part of the game for you. So, now I have an assistant to buy the doubling upgrade.

So it's all nested ascension loops over and over. That's kind of mechanically nice.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 6:39 AM on September 16

I didn't expect this to capture my attention so fully.
posted by endotoxin at 12:55 PM on September 16

I find myself in the situation where I got a lucky ball and got a score of 118. I can't even get close to that since. So I think I'm going to ride it out with no tickets for a while.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:58 PM on September 16

It has been a long time since I played a game on Kongregate, and I sort of assumed it would save my game and then...nope, it didn't. I had automatic flippers! Ah well.
posted by mittens at 1:25 PM on September 16 [1 favorite]

Huh. I upgraded Safari and it welcomed me back with "you were offline for x minutes, during which time you earned y points and $z in sales".

The jump to Favors kind of sucks? I don't see any way of significantly improving the cycle time unless if I truly idle it so I can just buy Arcade Multis, but right now that's something like 81 minutes idle with no staff? Bleh.
posted by Kyol at 3:03 PM on September 16

Or, I mean, git gud at pinball, but that's not gonna happen.
posted by Kyol at 3:03 PM on September 16

if the browser is backgrounded or the system sleeps the game only progresses at a small fraction of its usual cadence

At least in Firefox, it seems to pause if you're in a different tab, but runs just fine if you're in a different window. Which is just weird.
posted by darksasami at 4:36 PM on September 16

I knew when I posted that that I should state that the flippers were indeed on.

and dear god I wish we lived in a world where it made sense to assume other people would check things like that before making a complaint, but we really don't and it is all our burden to bear together. so yes the flippers are on
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:14 PM on September 16

Sorry! It just seems odd that they start in the off state. It's easy to miss stuff sometimes...

I got up to having about 16 ish favours (The pricing on favours seems to heavily suggest that you should aim for 4 per reset. It gets expensive to go beyond that) when I realised that there is a very very good reason that I try to avoid these kind of games. They are bad for my brain and kind of all consuming in a way that makes no sense. So I deleted it and very much hope that it has not saved any progress.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 5:59 AM on September 17

> So it's all nested ascension loops over and over. That's kind of mechanically nice.

It's why I gave up on it. After having done the evolve-the-pinball-game-to-an-efficient-state thing many times to get to the next level, it has to be done many times over again in exactly the same way every time that level upgrades, and when you get to the level above that you once-again have to start grinding from the very beginning again. It's severely monotonous.
posted by ardgedee at 6:29 AM on September 17

Yeah, a couple days on I've squeezed what blood I can from the stone; I am as pleased as I was originally with the core notion of putting a mechanical sim at the core of the number-generation and if it were a better pinball game that might have bought it more patience, but I agree with the feeling that there's no there there once you climb the ladder.

One of the greatest sins of under-baked idle games is iteration without transformation, and this does that, and does it without any flair to cover for it. If it were even to outright eliminate the work required to automate level n-2 when you graduated to n, there would be a sense of at least linear momentum in the climb, but it fails to do that and redoing everything from scratch each time you graduate is just dull and punishing instead of narratively empowering.
posted by cortex at 8:03 AM on September 17

This is neat but the flippers don't flip right and it also makes me jones for the all-time best console pinball game ever, Devil's Crush.
posted by ApathyGirl at 3:57 PM on September 17

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