Michelle Cortese

Orbitor 2

A digital recreation of the Orbitor 1 pinball machine—complete with updated aesthetics and authentic space physics.


Digital Spaces: Imagining Worlds in Realtime 3D,The Nature of Code Studio

Orbitor 1 is a 1982 pinball machine made by Stern Electronics. A fairly rare machine that I had the amazing opportunity to play while at the Pinball Hall of Fame just outside Las Vegas. Designed by Dixie Rinehart and Art Myers, Stern Electronics only produced about 800 of these. Orbitor uses magnets, motors, and a textured playfield in an attempt to simulate movement and gravitational pull in space. The ball spins, shoots and wobbles through a pseudo anti-gravity environment, occasionally getting caught in the magnetic orbits of the “planets” (bumpers) and shooting off in unpredictable directions.

The contoured plastic playfield has a “moon surface”-like substrate. Playfield slopes down and in towards the spinning bumpers which fling the ball away. The playfield slopes behind the flippers, allowing balls to be flipped backwards and then rescued for a forward-flipping shot. The kick-out hole always traps the ball landing in it, until released for multiball.

This digital version of Orbitor aims to recreate the zero gravity environment and planetary gravitational attractions via scripting in Unity 3D. The recreation will attempt to incorporate blocky, pastel vector aesthetics and a faux-2D environment into Orbitor in an attempt to visually modernize the game.

Young Adult

User Scenario
The game has a title screen, three rounds and the opportunity for failure + dramatic gameover screen (via three gutter balls). In order to proceed to advancing rounds the user must collect points by "visiting" planets but avoid getting trapped in planetary orbits (the pinball has thrusters that can be deployed to escape orbits)). There are also "collectables" that will increase the score by smaller amounts. The planets emit small cartoonish explosions when hit. After collecting 100 points (10 points for planet collision, 1 point for collectables) the user advances.

Orbitor 2 runs on Unity 3D, with external (pinball style) user inputs (buttons).

Scripting realistic space physics is insanely difficult but doable.