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Thread: ...I have a hard time playing Pinball Arcade after Zen Pinball.

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    Member BennyJackdaw's Avatar
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    ...I have a hard time playing Pinball Arcade after Zen Pinball.

    The tables in this game are very well made, and I have fun with every single one I bought so far. ...But when Zen Pinball sells all these deep tables with lots of features for one/two bucks, it's hard to justify paying five bucks for much simpler tables in Pinball Arcade. I know there are LOADS of liscensing issues involved with Pinball Arcade, but still.

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    Senior Member xAzatothx's Avatar
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    Zen tables look nice - but I've never been able to get into them. I much prefer the tables and physics on TPA (not withstanding the bugs). Personal preference - so play what ever makes you happy.
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    Junior Member Phil_194's Avatar
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    I played Zen Pinball for a few years, but I developed a new way of thinking and that is if you want a true pinball experience stick with TPA or Visual Pinball, simply because they play more like the real thing. Depends if you want accuracy or are willing to sacrifice realistic ball physics for a deeper ruleset. I would say TPA has definitely benefitted from recreating already thoroughly tested pinball tables. I find Zen tables interesting, but the ball feels kind of dead to me which makes the experience a bit underwhelming. But to each their own dude.
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    I found Zen first and played it exclusively on my first iPhone (2011; I was late to the party). But as soon as I found out about TPA in 2013, I was all in. As great as many of the Zen tables are, the nostalgia factor for the real thing beats it every time. I still purchase Zen tables from time to time for properties I'm interested in, but I don't play it nearly as much as TPA.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Zen has the polish, no two ways around it. And I've gotta say, with FX3 and the matchup or tournament options, I've been playing it way more than ever before. However, I agree that the main advantage TPA has is with both nostalgia and truly tested pins. Nothing beats seeing what an actual ball will do on an actual table. Heighway Pinball found this out with Alien, where the whole thing was done on CAD and never went through whitewood, but then had to be tweaked all the same. Another issue Zen has is with their DMD. They throw up all this info about the shot you should make next, but never put the ball in a capture situation so you can actually read what the DMD says! Drives me nuts. I have the same issue with Jersey Jack Pinball in that their screen has so much info on it, you can't just do a quick glance up and comprehend.

    Interesting experiment would be to find someone with no real world pinball experience, and then see if they have a preference of Zen or TPA.
    I'm just sayin'

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    Senior Member shogun00's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    Another issue Zen has is with their DMD. They throw up all this info about the shot you should make next, but never put the ball in a capture situation so you can actually read what the DMD says!
    Personally, I rarely ever pay attention to the DMD and just follow the light cues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    Zen has the polish, no two ways around it. And I've gotta say, with FX3 and the matchup or tournament options, I've been playing it way more than ever before. However, I agree that the main advantage TPA has is with both nostalgia and truly tested pins. Nothing beats seeing what an actual ball will do on an actual table. Heighway Pinball found this out with Alien, where the whole thing was done on CAD and never went through whitewood, but then had to be tweaked all the same. Another issue Zen has is with their DMD. They throw up all this info about the shot you should make next, but never put the ball in a capture situation so you can actually read what the DMD says! Drives me nuts. I have the same issue with Jersey Jack Pinball in that their screen has so much info on it, you can't just do a quick glance up and comprehend.

    Interesting experiment would be to find someone with no real world pinball experience, and then see if they have a preference of Zen or TPA.
    shutyertrap, I am your person, save a little Gorgar in or around 1980. Preference definitely with Zen, although not by that much. Since life does not have enough free time, I almost always fire up Zen when I sit down to play. I get to TPA only if time permits. I do play Zen the most.
    Last edited by steven120566; 11-18-2017 at 05:06 AM.

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    Senior Member ScotchYeti's Avatar
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    ZEN is far more appealing as a multisensory experience and good popcorn entertainment. From a pinball perspective it suffers from being so ramp and loop centric, having these super long ball times and having ultra hard wizard modes.

    You know, on one hand you feel entertained and in control, but as playing through the game modes takes forever, loosing the balls will happen and only the best will ever reach the wizard modes.

    TPA is different but offers a far better pinball experience. The tables are fun, varied and the challenge makes you coming back for more.

    You can see what happens when tables are too easy: Junkyard, Harley, Scared Stiff. They quickly become boring. Zen can counter this with atmosphere and animations, and they do it well. But this is not pure pinball anymore.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven120566 View Post
    shutyertrap, I am your person, save a little Gorgar in or around 1980. Preference definitely with Zen, although not by that much. Since life does not have enough free time, I almost always fire up Zen when I sit down to play. I get to TPA only if time permits. I do play Zen the most.
    Interesting. I obviously grew up playing the real things, so TPA had the advantage there. Also, with early Zen tables, the ball felt super heavy and there was no bounce to be had which bugged me a bit. So I played TPA 90% of the time and Zen would get a burst of play here and there, usually when a new table came out. Since FX3, I have found myself playing it 70% of the time and it all has to do with the tournaments and matchup modes. Pinball is most fun when competing, and Zen has really captured that. Leaderboards don't excite me, but seeing a score pop up that I'm about to beat while playing? Oh hell yeah. A whole slew of new user tournaments every day? Sure, why not pop in for a couple. Matchup is very similar to the TPA tourneys, which I find to be grind fests and have completely stopped playing. I'm not at that point yet with Zen, if only because the 3 minute timer keeps the scoring within reach.

    I should mention too, had a friend over yesterday and wanted to show him something in TPA. He has never played it before, was navigating through the menus with mouse and keyboard instead of my controller. He got so frustrated trying to exit a table and then the game itself because identifying the correct button to select and even finding it wasn't intuitive to him. I've been playing the game since the beginning, so I'm used to it. This is the first time I've seen first hand what others on this forum have complained about. He also was highly disappointed in having to exit the game to get to the launch utility to then set up graphics rather than being able to do it in game. I'm right there with him on that front.
    I'm just sayin'

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    Hmmm, for the real pinball feeling, I go to the Dutch Pinball Museum. Over there they have about 80 tables which you can play on as long as you like. TPA & SPA don't even come close. Not in atmosphere, nor in physics. I've played multiple tables both IRL and on TPA, but there is no way to compare it.
    And don't get me wrong: I like playing pinball on computers/consoles. I own all seasons on TPA, both packs on SPA, all tables in ZP2 and FX3. I like the Audio/Visual experience of the ZEN tables. And the physics are more "arcade" style, making the ball easier to control.
    SPA & TPA have the advantage of existing tables, which is fun... but nothing beats a real table. Period.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TFHFony View Post
    Hmmm, for the real pinball feeling, I go to the Dutch Pinball Museum. Over there they have about 80 tables which you can play on as long as you like. TPA & SPA don't even come close. Not in atmosphere, nor in physics. I've played multiple tables both IRL and on TPA, but there is no way to compare it.
    And don't get me wrong: I like playing pinball on computers/consoles. I own all seasons on TPA, both packs on SPA, all tables in ZP2 and FX3. I like the Audio/Visual experience of the ZEN tables. And the physics are more "arcade" style, making the ball easier to control.
    SPA & TPA have the advantage of existing tables, which is fun... but nothing beats a real table. Period.
    I don't think anyone would ever say digital pinball is better than real. There are ways though to at least approximate it, whether it's through the physics of the game or the community interaction while playing.
    I'm just sayin'

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    Interesting. I obviously grew up playing the real things, so TPA had the advantage there. Also, with early Zen tables, the ball felt super heavy and there was no bounce to be had which bugged me a bit. So I played TPA 90% of the time and Zen would get a burst of play here and there, usually when a new table came out. Since FX3, I have found myself playing it 70% of the time and it all has to do with the tournaments and matchup modes. Pinball is most fun when competing, and Zen has really captured that. Leaderboards don't excite me, but seeing a score pop up that I'm about to beat while playing? Oh hell yeah. A whole slew of new user tournaments every day? Sure, why not pop in for a couple. Matchup is very similar to the TPA tourneys, which I find to be grind fests and have completely stopped playing. I'm not at that point yet with Zen, if only because the 3 minute timer keeps the scoring within reach.

    I should mention too, had a friend over yesterday and wanted to show him something in TPA. He has never played it before, was navigating through the menus with mouse and keyboard instead of my controller. He got so frustrated trying to exit a table and then the game itself because identifying the correct button to select and even finding it wasn't intuitive to him. I've been playing the game since the beginning, so I'm used to it. This is the first time I've seen first hand what others on this forum have complained about. He also was highly disappointed in having to exit the game to get to the launch utility to then set up graphics rather than being able to do it in game. I'm right there with him on that front.
    What is super cool is that they have both achieved what they wanted to. If you love what the real, old, tables are about, TPA did it justice. As much justice that can be done simulating real pinball. And Zen, well, they started with digital pinball. And they also have done it justice. Although they are different, together they leave no room for any type of other gaming in my world lol.

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    The Zen tables look nice, but feel 'fake' and constricted. It is odd, because I think in theory it is great, but in applied pinballing, annoying... too much talk... too much fancy?

    I've tried to give them a shot, but I don't get the same feel for the tables as I do with Pinball Arcade. Are there any tables in FX3 that provide a more legit pinball feel, something like Silverball?

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    Senior Pigeon Kolchak357's Avatar
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    My only issue with Zen is that I wish they were more like real pins as far as code is concerned. I don't want to jump through so many hoops to start a mode or get to multiball. Some tables just feel like a grind or endless looping of ramp shots. But the Zen tables look great, and are pretty much bug free.
    What I really want are the Farsight pins with the ui, scoreboards, and smooth bugless play of Zen. Maybe if Zen buys Farsight?

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    Senior Member Gorgias32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kolchak357 View Post
    What I really want are the Farsight pins with the ui, scoreboards, and smooth bugless play of Zen. Maybe if Zen buys Farsight?
    I was thinking this exact thing last week - would be a dream come true. Fix/finish multiplayer, lower table and pack prices a bit, do actual testing before shipping, it would be just great.

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    I used to much prefer TPA's physics to Zen's, but at least on the consoles (Xbox One), playing TPA now seems really sluggish. Some tables, like Judge Dredd, seem like the ball is running in slow motion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolchak357 View Post
    I don't want to jump through so many hoops to start a mode or get to multiball.
    This is very true. Some tables are almost unplayable because of the unnecessarily hard/long mission start chain - if I recall correctly, this plagues especially some Star Wars tables.

    This depends on the tables though. I love playing the newer ones (BTTF, E.T., Aliens) where the mission start is really quite easy - it's much more satisfying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kolchak357 View Post
    What I really want are the Farsight pins with the ui, scoreboards, and smooth bugless play of Zen.
    This is also true - Zen seems like a more polished product, although I hate the childish early-2000's-style graphics in the UI / menus.

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    zen pinball has always been developing. Pinball arcade stagnated a long time ago and they just get bad cheap licenses and tables the last seasons. I boot up try and find it´s another old non attractive pinball. Since stern and williams will be removed I tried them but found none I wanted to buy. What really get me going is pinball fx2 vr. All the supernatural impossible stuff really bringgs pinball to another level. Which is larger then real pinball by a lot only missing the physical sensations.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    Interesting. I obviously grew up playing the real things, so TPA had the advantage there. Also, with early Zen tables, the ball felt super heavy and there was no bounce to be had which bugged me a bit. So I played TPA 90% of the time and Zen would get a burst of play here and there, usually when a new table came out. Since FX3, I have found myself playing it 70% of the time and it all has to do with the tournaments and matchup modes. Pinball is most fun when competing, and Zen has really captured that. Leaderboards don't excite me, but seeing a score pop up that I'm about to beat while playing? Oh hell yeah. A whole slew of new user tournaments every day? Sure, why not pop in for a couple. Matchup is very similar to the TPA tourneys, which I find to be grind fests and have completely stopped playing. I'm not at that point yet with Zen, if only because the 3 minute timer keeps the scoring within reach.

    I should mention too, had a friend over yesterday and wanted to show him something in TPA. He has never played it before, was navigating through the menus with mouse and keyboard instead of my controller. He got so frustrated trying to exit a table and then the game itself because identifying the correct button to select and even finding it wasn't intuitive to him. I've been playing the game since the beginning, so I'm used to it. This is the first time I've seen first hand what others on this forum have complained about. He also was highly disappointed in having to exit the game to get to the launch utility to then set up graphics rather than being able to do it in game. I'm right there with him on that front.
    I was just back re-reading this thread. I already commented on your post shutyertrap, but when I replied before I did not reply to this of your points: The community/competitive aspect. I got away from tourneys in FX3 to try and improve my image on the boards. Well, that's not really going the best ATM, so I gravitate back to tournaments. I look for yours all the time and have been a non factor. Also, another group plays mostly (but not exclusively) on Switch. They have evolved onto twitter now from the former Wii U miiverse, and can see all steam/xbox/and switch players. Anyway they have a few guys compiling the names of ALL the players in the tourney so the entire standings can be checked daily on twitter..

    Anyway, playing tournaments, The INEVITIBLE always occurs. The my best score in a tournament is 2-3 TIMES better than my best board scores (standard, untimed 3 ball games). That wanting to move up in the standings seems to make me a better player. TPA/Zen I just love both. TPA always supported tournaments but not on the platforms I liked to play on. But still kudos to TPA for doing them at all. This is probably why I own so many tables on Steam even though I rarely play on Steam. I don't care that they were a sales tool, but do prefer the single table tourney focus of Zen. The evolution in digital pinball is the amazing advancements now in playing along with fellow fans of the game in both apps.
    Last edited by steven120566; 06-22-2018 at 11:39 AM.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven120566 View Post
    I was just back re-reading this thread. I already commented on your post shutyertrap, but when I replied before I did not reply to this of your points: The community/competitive aspect. I got away from tourneys in FX3 to try and improve my image on the boards. Well, that's not really going the best ATM, so I gravitate back to tournaments. I look for yours all the time and have been a non factor. Also, another group plays mostly (but not exclusively) on Switch. They have evolved onto twitter now from the former Wii U miiverse, and can see all steam/xbox/and switch players. Anyway they have a few guys compiling the names of ALL the players in the tourney so the entire standings can be checked daily on twitter..

    Anyway, playing tournaments, The INEVITIBLE always occurs. The my best score in a tournament is 2-3 TIMES better than my best board scores (standard, untimed 3 ball games). That wanting to move up in the standings seems to make me a better player. TPA/Zen I just love both. TPA always supported tournaments but not on the platforms I liked to play on. But still kudos to TPA for doing them at all. This is probably why I own so many tables on Steam even though I rarely play on Steam. I don't care that they were a sales tool, but do prefer the single table tourney focus of Zen. The evolution in digital pinball is the amazing advancements now in playing along with fellow fans of the game in both apps.
    I visited FarSight yesterday and gave them a suggestion for improving competition in TPA. I've been playing their mobile app Pinball Tournaments, and it's totally got me hooked. It's a single table (a re-skin of Fireball) and the tournaments currently run 2 days. You are matched to similar level players, and you choose your own price of entry (which then determines how quickly you can advance up the leaderboard). Since the boards reset ever other day, it becomes ever tantalizing to reach for the top spot. Since you are only paired with similarly skilled players, you don't feel like you have no chance. It isn't dependent on playing live against another player, you can load up a whole bunch of scores in a queue that then a challenger would have to beat, and I think it'd be much easier for FarSight to implement than the Head to Head they have essentially put on the back burner. They guys I talked to liked the idea, we'll see if they can run it up the flagpole and get a stamp of approval.
    I'm just sayin'

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    Sounds pretty cool!

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    My biggest issue with Zen Pinball, is that you can cheese through trophies/scores, because you can save game state by simply quitting out of the game. So you can just do that every couple minutes, and if you lose the ball, simply re-load your last save. Not possible with TPA.

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    Senior Member Pete's Avatar
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    never could get into zen, i tried but it always seemed so fake and cheesy. and none of the art looks like real pinball art. I expect to see something along the lines of a beautifully inked comic book with sharp black edges and strong shading lines like a painted animation cell, zen is smooth edged and photoshopped painted looking.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    All I know is this...





    Looks a whole hell of a lot better than this...



    If you haven't looked at or played a Zen table in a while, you need to see it in FX3 and and play any of the tables since Aliens. They've really come into their own.
    I'm just sayin'

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    If you haven't looked at or played a Zen table in a while, you need to see it in FX3 and and play any of the tables since Aliens. They've really come into their own.
    Haven't been a fan of Zen to date, but the Aliens pack for the PS Vita was in the latest PSN flash sale, so I picked it up - partly from hearing you and Jared say Aliens is the beginning of the newer era of Zen tables on your podcast (and here you are saying it again ).

    I've only played the first table, but it really does feel more like a proper pin a) partly because of its less wacky layout and b) partly due to the physics feeling less, erm, "Zen-like." I look forward to getting deeper into it and trying the other tables out.

    I did a super-quick search for a rules book for the table and came across the ones on Zen's site. Found them a bit lacking. If you know of any other decent source for Zen table rule sets, please do share.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjchand View Post
    I've only played the first table, but it really does feel more like a proper pin a) partly because of its less wacky layout and b) partly due to the physics feeling less, erm, "Zen-like." I look forward to getting deeper into it and trying the other tables out.

    I did a super-quick search for a rules book for the table and came across the ones on Zen's site. Found them a bit lacking. If you know of any other decent source for Zen table rule sets, please do share.
    They've gotten much better on the bounce of the ball, making it behave more like you'd expect. I've been playing Mars this week for our weekly tourney, and then I played it in the mobile e-sports app and you can really feel the pronounced difference with how they went back and improved on that table. They even tweaked the rules for in in FX3.

    The in-game guides are fairly slight, but there's this guy ShoryukenToTheChin who does way more in depth explanations of how to tackle these tables. Once you get a feel for multiple Zen tables though, the in-game guide winds up being enough.
    I'm just sayin'

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