The Incredible Machine (series)
|The Incredible Machine|
Screenshot from The Incredible Machine Version 3.0
The Incredible Machine (aka TIM) is a series of computer games that were originally designed and coded by Kevin Ryan and produced by Jeff Tunnell, the now-defunct Jeff Tunnell Productions, and published by Dynamix; the 1993 through 1995 versions had the same development team, but the later 2000–2001 titles had different designers. All versions were published by Sierra Entertainment. The entire series and intellectual property were acquired by Jeff Tunnell-founded PushButton Labs in October 2009. Pushbutton Labs was later acquired by Playdom, itself a division of Disney Interactive, so as of now the rights are held by The Walt Disney Company.
In 2013, Jeff Tunnell announced a new game, called Contraption Maker, that would be the spiritual successor to the Incredible Machine series. Contraption Maker was produced by Spotkin Games, a company founded by Jeff Tunnell, and featured the same developers of the original Incredible Machine. It was released through Steam for Windows and OS X on July 7, 2014.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Versions
- 3 Reception
- 4 Availability
- 5 Contraption Maker
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The general goal of the games is to create a series of Rube Goldberg devices: arrange a given collection of objects in a needlessly complex fashion so as to perform some simple task (e.g., "put the ball into a box" or "start a mixer & turn on a fan"). Available objects ranged from simple ropes and pulleys to electrical generators, bowling balls, and even cats and mice to humans, most of which had specific interactions with or reactions to other objects (for example, mice will run towards nearby cheese). The levels usually have some fixed objects that cannot be moved by the player, and so the only way to solve the puzzle is carefully arrange the given objects around the fixed items. There is also a "freeform" option that allows the user to "play" with all the objects with no set goal or to also build their own puzzles with goals for other players to attempt to solve.
Notably, the games simulated not only the physical interactions between objects, but also ambient effects like varying air pressure and gravity. The engine does not use a random number generator in its physics simulation, ensuring that the results for any given machine are reproducible. There are also hints: for example, "Place the toaster here" or "We need to move that cat with a conveyor belt".
The series featured the following versions:
- The Incredible Machine (1992, DOS/Macintosh/3DO)
- The Even More Incredible Machine (1993, DOS/Microsoft Windows, Macintosh)
- Sid & Al's Incredible Toons (1993, DOS)
- The Incredible Toon Machine (1994, Microsoft Windows, Macintosh)
- The Incredible Machine 2 (1994, DOS)
- The Incredible Machine 3 (1995, Microsoft Windows/Macintosh)
- Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions (2000, Microsoft Windows/Macintosh)
- The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions (2001, Microsoft Windows/Macintosh)
- The Incredible Machine (2011, Apple iPad)
The developers of the series have been criticized by fans for recycling content, specifically all the games after The Incredible Machine 2, rather than creating new additions to the games.
With the addition of The Incredible Machine for iPad/iPhone, the game includes new art, sounds, and levels.
The Incredible Machine
The Incredible Machine, the first game in the series, was originally going to be developed by Electronic Arts for the Commodore 64 in 1984, but Dynamix worked on Arcticfox for the Amiga instead and work did not start on The Incredible Machine until the spring of 1993. Kevin Ryan programmed The Incredible Machine in nine months, on a $36,000 budget. The Even More Incredible Machine was an extended version of the original The Incredible Machine and had 160 levels, about twice the number of levels in the original game, and also had quite a few more parts.
The Incredible Machine 2
The Incredible Machine 2 introduced new levels, an extended assortment of parts, a new interface, significantly improved graphics, sounds, and music, and two player hotseat play. It also improved on the "freeform" mode, allowing players to create completely playable puzzles by defining not only the participating parts, but also the set of circumstances under which the puzzle will be considered "solved". In terms of gameplay, this version provided the biggest addition to the series, while subsequent updates were basically only ports of the game to newer operating systems with updated graphics/sounds and sometimes new puzzles, but no new parts.
The Incredible Machine 3
The Incredible Machine 3, on some releases titled Professor Tim's Incredible Machines, contained the same levels as The Incredible Machine 2, but with an improved interface. It added extra features as well like CD music tracks.
Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions
Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions was released in 2000. As a full 32-bit Windows 95 game, it had new 800x600 resolution graphics. Although it had a few new levels, the majority of them were levels from The Incredible Machine 2.
The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions
Even More Contraptions started a service allowing players to share their homemade puzzles using a service called "WonSwap". Even More Contraptions also came with a Palm Pilot version of the game that contained its own unique set of parts and puzzles suited for a small screen.
The Incredible Machine (iPad/iPhone)
The Incredible Machine for iPad/iPhone is the first version in the series to be developed and released by Disney for the AppStore. This revamped version contains new art, sounds, and levels, as well as a redesigned user interface to make it easy to use on touch screens. Disney announced and released The Incredible Machine on June 8, 2011 at E3 in Los Angeles, CA. This version lacks the demo mode that the previous versions included. Both iPads and iPhones are supported and freeplay mode is reportedly on the way. The app has been retired from the app store as a decision made by Disney.
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Computer Gaming World in 1993 praised The Incredible Machine, stating that while the 80 puzzles "are a blast" the Free Form Mode was the game's best feature; "the curious, tinkering 10-year-old is re-awakened, given a digital toy box and set loose in the backyard of his or her mind". The magazine concluded that the game was "one of the most innovative and deceptively addicting products to pass this way in quite a while ... a well-oiled imagination machine with a very broad appeal". In 1993, Dragon gave the game 4 out of 5 stars. Electronic Gaming Monthly gave the 3DO version a 7.25 out of 10, saying that its controls are too slow due to the lack of mouse support, but that it is nonetheless better than the PC version due to the dramatically improved graphics and sound.
Computer Gaming World in 1993 stated that "The Even More Incredible Machine lives up to its billing, surpassing the original in terms of play value, if not presentation."
The Incredible Machine was nominated for an award at the 1993 Game Developers Conference, and was the winner of several prizes due to its innovative style and simulation abilities. It was innovative enough that Sid & Al's Incredible Toons earned Jeff Tunnell and Chris Cole a patent for the game concepts.
The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions was included in the 2005 edition of Hoyle Puzzle Games as a bonus game.
The original game was announced for a download release on Xbox Live Arcade, but it was later cancelled.
The Incredible Machine Mega Pack (which includes Even More Incredible Machine, The Incredible Machine 3, Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions, and The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions) was published by Playdom and released on GOG.com on October 1, 2009.
A new iPad/iPhone version was released in the Apple AppStore on June 8, 2011.
On May 13, 2013, Tunnell announced work was started on a new game, called Contraption Maker, which is billed as a "spiritual successor" to the Incredible Machine series. Kevin Ryan and Brian Hahn, the other two developers on the original game, would be working on Contraption Maker as well, along with other developers at Spotkin, a video game development company started by Tunnell.
Contraption Maker features improved "HD" graphics, and has a robust physics engine. The game features 140 official puzzles, and over 100 different parts. It also has Steam Workshop support, so users can create and share their own puzzles.
Beside puzzles the game has contraption mode where a player only need to press 'Start' and watch someone's machine at work.
The game was first released on Steam through its Early Access program on August 28, 2013. Throughout its time in the program, Contraption Maker had 6 Alpha releases, adding features such as multiplayer and copy-and-paste, new parts, and new puzzles, followed by a Beta release in May 2014. On July 7, 2014, a final (1.0) release was made, and Contraption Maker left the Steam Early Access program.
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- "Goodbye Early Access, Hello 1.0!". Contraption Maker Blog. 7 July 2014. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Matt Barton (July 14, 2013). "Jeff Tunnell on Software Patents, Betrayal at Krondor, Incredible Machines". Armchair Arcade's Matt Chat. YouTube. Retrieved July 15, 2013.
- "Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions (PC) System Requirements – VGRequirements Forums". Forums.vgrequirements.info. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
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- "Return of the Incredible Machine: Contraptions". IGN. 15 September 2000. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- Zuccarelli, Dan (13 June 2011). "The Incredible Machine Review". Gamezebo. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- Lombardi, Chris; Weksler, Mike (April 1993). "Tinkering with Sierra's The Incredible Machine". Computer Gaming World. p. 52. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia & Lesser, Kirk (May 1993). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (193): 57–63.
- "Review Crew: Incredible Machine". Electronic Gaming Monthly (59). EGM Media, LLC. June 1994. p. 38.
- Dille, Ed (November 1993). "That's Even More Incredible!". Computer Gaming World. pp. 42–43. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
- "The 7th International Computer Game Developers Conference". Computer Gaming World. July 1993. p. 34. Retrieved 12 July 2014.
- Tunnell, Jeffrey A.; Cole, Christopher M. (1994-11-10). "United States Patent 5,577,185: Computerized puzzle gaming method and apparatus". United States Patent & Trademark Office. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- "E3 2011: Best of E3 Awards". IGN. 2011-06-06. Retrieved 2011-06-11.
- Listed in the Help -> About section of the game.
- "Vivendi Games Mobile - Incredible Machine". Vivendi Games Mobile. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
- Carless, Simon (2006-08-31). "Vivendi Reveals Double Fine Deal, Crash Online, Incredible Machine For XBLA". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2007-09-11.
- "May « 2013 « Make It Big In Games". Makeitbigingames.com. Retrieved 2013-11-05.
- Tunnell, Jeff (13 May 2013). "Old Team, Exciting New Product". Contraption Maker Blog. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Pearson, Craig (13 May 2013). "The Incredible Machine Rebuilt: Contraption Maker". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Contraption Maker". Spotkin Games. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Official Contraption Maker Teaser Trailer". Spotkin Games. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- "Early Access Release Date and Trailer". Contraption Maker Blog. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 22 July 2014.
- Pearson, Craig (28 August 2013). "Contraption Maker Rolls Onto Steam Early Access". Rock Paper Shotgun. Retrieved 22 July 2014.