A while back I was shown a demonstration of a "perpetual machine" made in Flash and composed of bumpers, kickers and conveyor belts, as well as other contraptions. The technology behind it was being developed by two very talented interactive multimedia professors, Nancy Doubleday and Steve Kurtz, in the IT department at RIT where I was attending graduate school. The purpose was to help fuel the creation of an engineering construction kit of sorts along with the help of Jason Arena, professor in RIT's New Media department, and Jose Rodriguez of JR Visuals. The result of that collaboration is the Brain Strainer, which is now available to play on the Globalspec website.
The objective of this physics-based game is to score enough points to launch the rocket by creating a machine using the objects provided. Any combination and quantity of objects may be used, and the points must be scored before the ball lands on the red launch button.
Simply click on an object from the palette and then click on a grid space to place it there. Use the eraser, or press [space] while clicking, to remove an object.
Choose between three (3) different ball materials: metal, wood, and rubber. The ball will bounce relative to the selected material's real-world physical properties, though there is only subtle differences between them.
Three difficulty levels vary in the quantity and positioning of objects already placed for you, and which cannot be moved. The Novice level allows free reign over all objects except for the starting position of the ball, and the launch button.
Analysis: I love construction kits, especially those involving physics and bouncing balls, and the Brain Strainer does a decent job of tickling that enthusiasm. The physics engine is solid (of course! ;), and yet the frame rate will suffer on slower machines thus making ball movement sluggish, but not unplayable.
Probably one of the best features is the ability to save your machines and send them to friends. To save more than one machine, however, you will have to send the current one to yourself and retrieve the corresponding URL from the email. Not the best implementation, but it works.
Great for a quick and casual diversion, there is certainly plenty here to come back to again and again.
Post a link to your best machine in the comments for everyone to try. =)