austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Is playing ball, taking in all, and thinking so small

A postscript to the pinball golf tournament, though: we learned the next day that the tournament organizer had made a somewhat annoying mistake. One of the objectives, on the game No Good Gofers, was to complete four holes of the golf course, normally done by making a combination of various challenging shots. What the organizer didn't know was that one of the Mystery Awards --- just what it sounds like, a shot that gives you a surprise result, sometimes great, sometimes piddling --- is to advance you two holes. Our friend MWS got this on his second go-around on the game. And that means some lucky people had the skill challenge cut in half (or, I suppose theoretically, completely eliminated) compared to everyone else's work.

More serious was the error in Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure, in which the challenge was to start the Well Of Souls mode. There's a dozen potential modes, and you start the one that's lit by shooting the Start Mode target; you can change which one's lit by shooting a ramp. Ours started with the mode farthest from Well Of Souls lit and we assumed that was the challenge: you had to manage eleven ramp shots, a fair test of skill, before shooting the Mode Start. In fact, though, the initial lit mode is randomly picked at the start of the game. Our group got the hardest possible; but some people might have got the challenge having to shoot the ramp only six or four or, possibly, zero times. This does explain why we had it slightly easier our second go-round: that one started a mere ten ramp shots away from the Well Of Souls.

Oh, there is another way than shooting ramps to advance the lit mode, by the way, and that's lighting a mode. Nearly all the Indiana Jones modes are timed, play for thirty or 45 seconds or so under a special set of rules, and one safe way to play is to keep shooting the mode start, let the mode time out, and then shoot again. On my second try at the table I did accidentally shoot the Mode Start too early, and had to decide: do I try playing this mode, at the risk of losing my ball, or do I keep the ball safely cradled on my flipper? I chose to play it out, as if this were an ordinary game, rather than wait for the mode to expire. (It didn't hurt that the mode had the objective of shooting a lot of ramps; I figured I would not be unhappy at more practice shooting ramps.) Well, I lost the ball, and the chance to win the objective, doing so, but I felt like I'd established something about the kind of player I am in so doing.

Trivia: In 1884, its sole year, baseball's Union Association league used the Wright & Ditson ball, designed by George Wright, shortstop and part-owner of the Boston Unions. Source: The Rules of Baseball: An Anecdotal Look at the Rules of Baseball and How They Came To Be, David Nemec.

Currently Reading: Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber.

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