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Non - Digital pinball game idea

15 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/08/2012

I'm going to design a non digital table top pinball game for solo and co-op play.

Players can choose several characters to bounce and slide across the pinball board to gain points and try to survive monsters, aliens, spaceships etc with different themes.

Co-op well, maybe 2 player game play than a co-op. The other player could play as the AI on the board.

Dice mechanic, action cards, encounter cards, a theme for each table top board. Probably my first roll and write game. I haven't decided yet but I already have designs in my mind for the board.

Points tallied would have a binder coil number system at the top of the board to flip over which will have 12 ringed flip slot 4 sections of 3 zeros for point tally when a player gains points.

Encounter deck will have , hmm say 60 to 100 cards. Cards will be flipped face up on certain areas on the board. Character will have abilities to charge up with by points tallied and the player can draw a ability card to use in instant or to save up for other situations.

Encounters will have abilities to hinder character from achieving goals / points on the board.

Power ups will also be available.

I'm thinking of a space theme, fantasy theme, gangster theme, racing theme, police theme, Adventure theme

Oo, a fire and rescue theme. That's sounds interesting.

Underwater theme (diving Adventure)

That's what I have been thinking of since last night. It will be my 28th game design.

Creator of Dymino Monsters;

Joined: 04/08/2012
Dice mechanics

The game mechanic might be a d20 , d100, d10, d6 for my new design.

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Usually Pinball Machines are usually solo games...

I just wanted to make that one (1) remark... That usually Pinball machines are designed for only one player. Instead of using the Player #2 as an AI player, couldn't you just set-up RULES that ONE (1) Player can follow and try to "beat" the machine?!

I've never seen Pinball games with more that one player... This is mostly a solo effort. You have like a number of balls (3 to 5) and you can earn extra balls as you play and score.

Same goes for CO-OP. Again just saying that I haven't SEEN anything in that realm with more than one player.

Also Pinball is a very TACTICAL game. It involves hitting the ball at the right angle, shaking the table to avoid traps and such. Don't know how you will account for the PHYSICAL aspect to the game.

But in any event... Good luck(?!) to you and your design idea.

Note #1: One player games are very popular these days with the Pandemic and all. Not that a 2 Player Pinball game is not a good idea... You're just limiting the game by not having a 1 Player game with the right kind of AI Rules. I'm having a hard time picturing the game because of the lack of the "pinball". The whole game is AROUND that little BALL and in your concept it's more of a virtual ball, right???

Note #2: Can you share with us how you plan to virtualize the BALL and handle motion and things like "shaking the table" and avoiding a TILT!? Or is this too confidential ATM?

Joined: 04/08/2012
Board Ball working title

The board will have a numbered path of 1 - 100 or 1 - 50. I haven't decided yet.

The player chooses a character which will be the ball in play. The player then rolls the dice to follow the path that combines upto the highest number of rolls or closest number path to hit a target or bumper or object task block for points.

The Encounter will have a number hit of 1 - 20, again, I haven't decided yet which is still in the early stages of development.

There will be tasks along the route for player (s) to complete through out game play. Abilities will be unlocked from points to allow the figure or character to do more damage. Once that Encounter is defeated, it goes into the discard pile and another card is draw and put in its place.

Digital Pinball though is a solo game, your playing against the AI of the computer, trying to gain the highest score from hitting the bumpers, trying not to get stuck from gravity of the ball to sticking in an odd position on the board.
Tilt cards will be limited probably to 3 per game. Not sure yet. When the tilt card is used, the figure is dropped at the bottom of the board and the game resets or just wipes off the points from the board probably wipes the points off the player card.

Cards will or can be drawn by a second player to replace the task cards, encounter cards onto the board as the AI so first player can play the game.

The other idea I have thought about is allowing 4 players with their own board ball mats or boards and play against the game as co-op all at the same time.

The ability cards can help the entire group get better attack, hinder attack from other players or the AI, or a whole slew of things.

Board ball will play moderate fast and slow depending on combat from encounters and going against the BBEG or main objective.

Players start with 3 figures and can gain upto 5 figures during game play.

I'm still working on other details to keep it simple but tactical.

Creator of Dymino Monsters;

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Sounds interesting to me

Keep up the good work ... and do share with us YOUR "progress"! Like 4 Player versus sounds "Very Original". To me, it sounds better than 2 Players ... Because being the AI player doesn't seem like the most fun role to play.

But 4 Players battling each other... That sounds very novel.

Again keep up with the game and let us know how your own playtesting goes and what you finally decide on the "mode" (1, 2 or 4 Players).


questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Not sure if this helps or not ...

But I was thinking there are two (2) "points" in a TARGET: Target IN and Target OUT.

So let's say you are trying to HIT a "Target" the IN is exactly that. How precise are you to hitting the target. If a "Target" has acceptable points like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 (1D6). And this "Target" is MODERATE you would need to ROLL 3+ on the die. If you roll UNDER you miss the "Target"...

Either way the next PHASE would be "Target OUT" and each Target would have it's OWN OUT parameter (think which dice to use). So if the OUT is a 1D10 and your good exit is to ROLL 7+ on the die... Otherwise the ball goes towards some kind of TRAP...

Then you define DECKS to "Targets" and "Traps"... A Trap could be "the Ball falls down to the Flippers" and then you have a "D20" to Make a Dexterity Check (or Saving Throw of some kind). Otherwise the ball is LOST (and falls in the center).

This is how I can picture it... Working in my own mind.

Anyways good luck with this design!

Joined: 04/08/2012

Thank you Kristopher. I'll take that into consideration and work it out and see what happens.

I'll definitely let everyone know how the process goes.


Joined: 04/08/2012
Board Ball prototype

I just put a partial edited picture in the prototype album here on the forum. I don't remember how to upload a larger picture of the board to the post. But I assure you it's nearly complete.

What is next to add?:

I need to add a few more bumper drawings, add targets and the dice movement for for the player / character.

Why a space theme?

I chose the space theme for the first phase of this design project to take a hold of the ability to jump around the board as if your playing a digital pinball game. I could of chosen others but for starters the black hole mechanics seemed the best place to start and work from there.

Dice mechanics for the game:

Well, in the beginning I had alot of ideas to choose from by selecting the dice to perform the actions and abilities. I did choose the d30 because there were 24 circles already imprinted on the cardboard slat. So, I took in count by or will be using some or nearly all of those circles on the card board as some sort of target or bumper.

No cards have been written or drawn out for characters, abilities or tilt situations. That will take place during the week.


let-off studios
let-off studios's picture
Joined: 02/07/2011
Sounds Fun!

I can visualize how this might work, and it sounds like an interesting idea whether or not you go with the solo or 2-player versions. I definitely see dice involved, and perhaps ways to mitigate dice results, to simulate the physical aspect that questccg mentions above.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to approach this possible scenario. Best of success to you, Jesse! :)

Joined: 04/08/2012
Thank you Let off Studios

Thank you Let of Studios, Kris and everyone for the interest and support.

The idea came to me Sunday evening while watching a couple (Unfiltered Gamer) demo play Merchants Cove.

As I scanned the board, I noticed a similar pattern of pinball to the Merchant Cove layout. You all may or may not see the resemblance, but to me it did.

More than a few years back, I vaguely had an idea for a pinball board game but I seemed to have put it out of my mind due to life , work etc, but seeing the board sparked a fascination of,"Can I design a non digital pinball tabletop game?"

I thought through the avenues of layout, game mechanic quite quickly. Then shared it with my game designers Facebook messenger group and then here at bgdf.

An hour ago I am thinking of a counter clock wise number pattern to see how the movement reacts when the dice is rolled for the figure (ball) to move along the numbers in 360 degrees.

There might be line of sight paths from bumpers to number path or no line of sight path (lines drawn across the board for directions where the figure (in this case a spaceship) may travel.

I just imagined imaginary lines from each flipper on the board and I can draw lines to the direction according to number path the figure will travel. In my mind, I think it will look elegant.

I've already decided that each line will go across the entire board path (spider web).

For this first prototype board, I'm thinking there will be 7 target positions to access more points. I also need to add the action and ability cards.

Combat will commence by rolling dice.
From there, re-read Kris' suggestions and read Grant's WayWard Traveler's 777 suggestions (an ex stuntman, voice over and board , card game and digital game designer) Christian brother and everyone else here.

Bows respectively;

Just trying something different that I know will work from my other designs. I can't wait to play my newest game design.
So excited.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Board Ball Update

Earlier this morning from 1 am to 3:30 am June 23, 2021

I finished the horizontal lines like just before 3:30 am this morning. And I had play tested it. I used 5 nickles as space ships. I lost 2 ships during the prerun .lol There are 192 squares on the board. I will be adding numbers to the squares. I playtested with a d12. I then thought of flicking the nickel ship and it worked. Or players can use a figure to maneuver around the board as well. I still have a few more things to work on and it will be completed.

There are:

14 bumpers
6 flippers on the open field
2 rooms 1: Across the Stars area
2: Hyper Gate
Behind the Hyper Gate area is the Space ship yard.
Behind the space ship yard is the Extra Craft Repairs for Space Ship area.
1 black hole in the center of the board
192 squares
1 thruster shot pocket
1 ramp for launch
1 exit ramp for lost token, figure

Now to add

Tilt cards
Target cards
Crash cards
Upgrade cards
Character / ship cards
Point system for targets
Movement numbers on open field.

So I'll drawing 3 more boards of the same for 3 more players, write up a backstory, and every thing extra for those as I am nearly complete with the first board.

So far so good.


Joined: 04/08/2012
I hope you all can see it from this link.

Note #1: The above link is broken... I have tried to connect to it and Facebook reports that the content is not there...

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
I'm not sure I understand 100% but I can offer this...

As a word of "advice", why do you need "192 SQUARES"??? Couldn't you just set-up a "virtual pinball machine" with various positions which are all relative to one and another?! Just a thought...

This is a "Sample Layout" of ONE (1) "virtual pinball machine". This is something that I put together to EXPLAIN how the TABLE can be "configured".

These are ALL "mini" card decks. Each configured with an assortment of Target-In and Target-Out sequences. So let's say the BALL reaches the bottom Flippers (Left-side), you would DRAW the LEFT-Side Flipper's card on the top and reveal it. It needs to be resolved.

So the card says Target-In = Roll a 7+ using 2D6s. If you Succeed you you may target the Top Flag. If you fail, the ball is lost.

Assuming your roll was successful, you reveal the Top Flag topmost card which says: Target-In = Roll a 4+ using 1D6. If you Succeed, Flag #1 is ACTIVATED, hit the Ramp Entrance next. If you Fail Target closest Bumper.

And let's say you succeed again, it's time to hit the Ramp Entrance...

Anyhow this is an EXAMPLE of "rule-sets" that will allow you to simulate a pinball machine with all kinds of areas and rules. That's the BEST concept I can come up with...

IDK if your design is better... But these are some of my own thoughts. You may adapt, use, edit, improve upon these ideas if you like. You may also choose to ignore them (if you would want another direction for your game...) Cheers!

Note #1: Just wanted to mention that each target has either POINTS or a POINT MODIFIER (like 1x, 2x, 3x, 5x and 10x) So you score points for successful rolls and for unsuccessful roles the rules tell you what happens NEXT.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Movement squares

Thank you for your suggestions and feedback.

Why 192 squares?

I drew up a miniature scale drawing of the card board flat (the same size as a 6 pack can of 4 sits in, it's called a flat, at least I call it that) The sides of the box are broken down to add more room to the recycling bin.

These flats are great uses for play mats, prototype designs for a lot of , well anything. So, I use the card board flats. It's cheap and easy to get from my mom's carry out store next door.

When I drew all the areas for the parts for the out side of the pinball design, I thought of 2 different ways of putting numerical information on the board.

1: 3 circular patterns
2: squares

With the pre drawn idea of circular pattern on a 3 x 5 index card, the pattern looked messy.

So, for easy and simple lines, I went with squares. By counting out how many squares I had, I deduced that by using a d12 for movement around the path would give me a percentage of how many target icons I needed to lay out in the middle of the field.

192 divided 12 is 16. I was thinking of 192 divided by 10 by using a d10 but that would give me 19.2 target locations in the middle of the board or path way but I quickly realized by looking at the inward area of the layout was to small for 19.2 target circles. So I did my calculations and used the d12 input instead. 16 target locations is much better, cleaner and less cluttered on the board.

1: 13 circle targets are 3 spaces apart.

2: 2 circle targets is 12 spaces (squares apart)

3: 1 circle target is sitting 3 squares 2 right in front of the hyper gate.

192 squares was just telling you how much room there was for the token to "move around the board" like a pinball would move in all directions.

The launch ramp has 1 - 5 text. When the player rolls and lands on one of those numbers, there will be text on the outer edge of the board to tell the player what to do or the effect that will happen to their ship or figure or whatever they have chosen.

The Hyper Gate box has 1 - 3 for launch. If the player lands on one of these, the player picks up a card.

Across The Stars box (upper left hand corner of card board) has 1 - 5. The player who lands on one of these, the effect is read to the far left side of the board, the player must do according to what is on the card.

Black Hole/Draw A Card - Center of the board. 1: Tilt, Across the Stars, Hyper Gate, Power Loss, Enemy Approaching, and any number affects will happen and there (for right now will have 4 cards each) / still working on this feature.

Players can choose from 4 different space crafts with different affects. Speed, extra shield buffer, and other effects I haven't a clue yet. Still working on that feature.

I'm currently working on space craft names and affects. I've already have 4 Tilt cards (that was easy to write up).

For the link:
I tried and thought it could work. I will delete just that link post and edit a smaller picture and add it to the photo album as best as I can from my phone.


larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
If it can help your

If it can help your inspiration, there are already a few pinball games on board game geek, one of them that I remembered is this one:

Super Skill Pinball 4-cade on BGG

It seems to be a dice game that uses erasable markers.

Some other random ideas.

I would indeed prefer to play solo. Maybe a dice control mechanism where you try to do your best with the rolls you have. Maybe you roll dices for the left and right flipper. And you can use 1-3 dices from a flipper to perform stuff on the left or right side of the machine. Sometimes, you would need to use a die on each side if you want to hit something in the center.

Targets could have value combinations that you try to roll. For example, a group of 3 targets on the right side, could require rolling 5 and 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 for the first, second and third target.

Players could have from 2-5 dice on each flipper. Either it's fixed, or either it varies through the game. Maybe time allows you to recover dices on flippers. If a ball end on a flipper where you do not have any target you can make with those rolls, you lose the ball. So the mechanics would be to keep a hand of dice that allows you to do something.

There must be multiple tables, but that does not means components cannot be reused from a table to another. An idea to add un-predictability, is that targets could be cards, when you hit them, you draw/flip a card and the results for the situation of the next round is show on the card. This is where you'll know if the ball bounce else where, or if it falls on the left or right flipper.

This way, your combinations of cards and targets will create a "behavior" to your machine that players will have to learn to understand how to score point and defeat the machine by completing all the objectives.

So the game would have 2 level of depth: the tactical part, where player try to stay alive and increase their score. The strategic part, understand how the machine behave and try to complete all objective.

Joined: 04/08/2012
Thank you Larienna

Thank you for the bgg link.

Yes, I have checked out the 2 games for Super skill pinball games on bgg.

I am working on enemy target cards that will be drawn from the card pile.

For the point system, I haven't decided how the point system will work other than using dice for combat.

What the game has so far:

Tilt cards : 4

Across The Stars cards : 2

Solar Sail Repair Vessels Cards : 2 ( will be 4 cards )

Asteroid Cards : 0 ( will be 4 cards in total )

Comet Cards : 0 ( will be 4 in total )

Death Ray Cards : 0 (Will be 4 to 6 cards in total ) Death Ray's is an enemy encounter.

Character / hero vessels Cards : 3 ( will be 4 in total )

The Yaidy , The Baidy , The Lady , The Balthar are 4 enemy ship encounters. This encounter is the Ladybug race.

That is all I have so card and still a work in progress.

It's been super hot here and in those with 3 fans going and i don't do much during the extreme heat plus I've been working at our family pizza shop which takes time to.

So, with all that, I'll be slowly moving along to finishing this latest project.

Thank you for putting your input larienna and the advice for the flippers by using an extra dice for movement etc. I'll work on that to.

Stay tuned for more updates when the game has been updated.


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