Tegra Puts a New Spin on Pinball

By John Gaudiosi (gamerlive.tv) - Wed, Jul 20, 2011

Developer Zen Studios is using NVIDIA’s latest technology to update a classic game – pinball. Designed to take advantage of the latest NVIDIA® Tegra® -powered smartphones and tablets, Zen Pinball THD brings the classic arcade game to life in a mobile format. Neil Sorens, creative director at Zen Studios, talks about the role new technology has played in making something old, new again, in this exclusive interview.

Why do you think pinball translates well to the mobile space?
Pinball is a very simple game and it’s very easy to get into. You have two clippers and a bunch of stuff going on the tables. So whether you’re a novice or you’re an expert, there is just something there for everyone. You can just hit the flippers and keep the ball in play while the lights flash and stuff moves around. Or in expert mode you learn all the modes and you can beat a table. It’s definitely a game that reaches across all audiences.

What’s your business model with Zen Pinball THD?
It’s essentially a pinball platform. It’s a game where you get the platform for free and then you just buy any tables you want within that platform. Gamers can buy anything from our own original tables to licensed tables. We’re working with some of the biggest names in the games and entertainment industry on this platform. Best of all, these tables pretty much look exactly like what a console pinball game would look like. We were very pleasantly surprised about just how much power we were able to get out of the Tegra processor. When we hand the tablet to somebody, they’re always surprised at how much our game looks like something you’d play on today’s consoles. It’s just really amazing. And if you’re a game developer on consoles, how could you not be excited about this? It’s just as good as Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3 and you can carry it around with you. The graphics are amazing. The interface is amazing. It’s the future.

How easy was it to port your game over to Tegra 2?
We got Zen Pinball up and running very quickly, actually. NVIDIA’s been in the graphics business for a long time, so they know exactly what developers want. It was a very smooth process. They’re like “what can we do for you, how can we make things easier, here are some tablets, just go do what you do best and let us know if you need any help.” It’s been fantastic. On the Tegra platforms, it’s like working on another console. That’s basically what it is and we can do the same assets, same engines, and just get it on there quickly and everything will work. The game runs at 60 frames per second with full texture quality and full physics effects going one. In some ways, this is actually superior to what we have going on with the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3. It’s super impressive.