Pinball construction setMarch 6, 2009
Pinball Construction Set, one of the earliest and most accessible examples of a game that engenders user-created content.
“The Pinball Construction Set contains the pieces and tools to make millions of hi-res video pinball games. No programming or typing is necessary. Just take parts from the set and put them on the game board. Press a button to play! Use the video tools to make borders and obstacles. Add game logic and scoring rules with the wiring kit. Create hi-res designs and logos using the BudgeCo magnifier. Color your designs with the paint brush.”
The fact that Budge’s own Raster Blaster could be recreated and even surpassed with PCS was enticing to anyone who had dreamed of making a virtual pinball game. Exciting stuff even today, it was downright groundbreaking in 1982 — particularly considering that the Apple II had just 48K of RAM.
Budge agreed to work with Trip Hawkins (Director of Strategy and Marketing at Apple Computer in 1982) and his fledgling startup, Electronic Arts (EA), whose goal at the time was to promote the idea of developer as “software artist” (or superstar), while at the same time presenting computer games in attractive, professional packaging. Computer games had remained on the margins of popular culture, and Hawkins’s goal was not just to sell his own games but to sell gaming as a worthwhile medium.
Thus, in 1983, Electronic Arts published Pinball Construction Set in the company’s iconic record album-style packaging with slick cover art, complete with a greatly expanded (though arguably superfluous) instruction manual. The game was eventually ported to the Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Coleco Adam, Commodore 64, and PC.