From paper to pinball: Creating The Avengers Chronicles tables
Released on XBLA last week, Zen Studios’ Marvel Pinball: The Avengers Chronicles DLC for Pinball FX2 offers up a quartet of new Marvel-themed tables for gamers to flip silver balls around for 800 MSP. According to the Penny Arcade Report, the foursome are the result of two years of collaborative work between Marvel and Zen. Each of the tables was in development for around eight months, with 75 percent of that time being spent on testing.
“The table I’ve been championing literally since we started this whole thing is The Infinity Gauntlet,” Chris Baker, the interactive manager at Marvel Entertainment, told the Penny Arcade Report. “I think it might actually be what prompted the idea for event-based tables in the first place, just because the idea of Infinity Gems becoming their own balls is so conducive to great video pinball missions. I think more than any table Zen has made so far, this is definitely a videogame and definitely not something you could see actualized in a traditional pinball form. One look at the Reality Gem in action, where the table warps your reality by literally flipping it upside down, and I think you’ll know what I mean.”
After going hands-on with the table at E3 and with the review copy, XBLA Fans has seen firsthand the genius of its intricate design. Zen’s blending of visually impressive comic book elements with satisfying silver ball play is the result of seasoned table designers, but the team behind Infinity Gauntlet wasn’t always capable of such innovative works, admitted Zen Creative Director Neils Sorens. “We started out as game developers who happened to be pinball fans,” he said. “Our lack of pinball design experience showed in our early work, which was derivative and doesn’t stand up well to what we’re putting out these days.”
After learning from those early experiences, Zen’s craftsmen fine-tuned the process of table-making and now creates work that the team is proud of. “We start playtesting as soon as the table geometry is in place, before any of the logic has been implemented,” Sorens said of the process. “We want to make sure that it’s fun just to hit the ball around without any of the sights and sounds in place before we start building the game modes and such on top of it,”
The process of creating something so optically pleasing was helped by Zen’s close partnership with the biggest name in comics, but wasn’t exactly breezed through with the same ease that Galactus’ scout surfs the cosmos. Due to concerns over leaks, Marvel could not simply send the developer a copy of The Avengers script. Instead, a series of in-person meetings were held with members of the film crew and Baker “read through the script in a ‘pinball mindset’ to figure out any other cool scenes or aspects [he] might [have wanted] to represent. Zen took those ideas, plus the reference we provided them, some which were actual CG models used in the film itself, and executed them beautifully.”
Source: The Penny Arcade Report