Brain Strainer

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brainstrainer screenshot

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.

Play Brain Strainer

Post a link to your best machine in the comments for everyone to try. =)


Great game; I'll play this for hours. I love Flash-gadgets like these... very funtacular. 92 out of 100.


I tried out your machine from the current screenshot and It's like a giant pinball game.

Fun though. -MANAX


You have to make that ball bounce a ridiculously large number of times. I haven't been able to launch the rocket yet.


Here's a link to the machine in the screenshot... Click.


You definitely have to go the pinball sort of route to rack up the high scores. I made some great ones based on the one in the screen shot with different placements of a large number of things but the basic idea was the same.


How'd you make a link to your specific machine? I just made a fantaculus website and I'd like to do the same thing. And I change my rating to 98. -MANAX


Just click the "Send Game to a Friend" button and send it to your own email address. Make sure the box is checked: "Include a Link to your current machine".

Then copy the URL that it sends you, and paste here into the comment. Use anchor tags to make it clickable...

<a href="your machine URL here">Click</a>


ooooooh. Thanks.


This is so fun.


I made a machine based more on repititon than a pinball game. The rubber ball slowly spends a few minutes going back and forth between a few layers of vertical launchers (thus going up and down constantly, scoring more points with each hit) and back down a maze of slopes a few times before finally fitting through a narrow opening and hitting the button with over 40000 points and fully powering the rocket. If you want to see it, just click here.


Looks like highscores from shared machines all go into highscore table. Or why else would highscore table have exactly same scores all over?


Great fun, I better close my browser now otherwise no work will get done :D

One last little thing though

My Machine


I'm still playing... why? Help me.


Does anyone know how to screenshot in IE, because That's all I can use right now 'cause my E-mail isn't working ever sience.... what a horrid day it was.... But if you can help me out here, I'd really appreciate it. Try to get it within a week though, cause I'm going on a weeks vacation later today. Thanks, -MANAX

bushmobile June 28, 2006 6:46 AM

hey, long time visitor - first time poster.

this game's great! my best effort so far - 210000, be warned it goes on for 9 minutes



I got lazy so I made it short,I'll do a longer one later


How come the link dosn't work?

I suck at html


Ro - What you typed was this... <a>Mine</a>

You're missing the href attribute. For a hyperlink to work, anchor tags require an href attribute with a valid URL specified in quotes. Look at my example above.

It's not that terribly difficult, though admittedly a bit cryptic if you're new to that sort of thing.

After sending the machine to your email, open what you receive and look for the link to your machine. Click it. That should take you to a page with your machine, but more importantly the URL will now appear in the address bar of the browser. Copy that completely, and use that for the value of href in your anchor tag.

Does that help?


Here is one for the Advanced level. Much more fun with obstacles to build around. :)



teebor - loved it! Nice job! =)

bushmobile - outstanding! I loved the special launch animation with that score (well over a 100K!).

Kris - not bad!

bushmobile June 28, 2006 10:42 AM

Thanks! the results seem to vary each time - i've run it three times and each one got about 210k but there's been up to a minute difference in time.

this one's fun, but it's a bit of an attack on the senses!


Hehehe- this is fun. I only wish there were more constructors...


I just got 6.5 million, but with using bugs and not launching the rocket, do you have to be able to launch the rocket (although not necessarily within the 10 minutes) to get on the high score list?


If you do get on the high score list using that machine (if it is possible), put your name down as or jayisgames please :).


Hi Jay - so glad you like it!


bushmobile: that was awesome! By the way, when I ran it, the rocket launched with only seven seconds to spare.


ahh... normally i never comment; although a huge fan of the site, i'm just too impatient to get really good at games. Here however, there aren't many links yet, unless I have overlooked. So here's my comparitavely low scoring machine! =)


When I loaded Bushmobile's first machine it finished with five minutes to spare and teebor's didn't work at all. wierd. I also lost my first machine good enough to launch, but it wasn't much. I'll try to remake it.


heres my it works best with metal but you launch the rocket with every ball


Cool, but...

I really don't like the whole "Try stuff until it works" category. Especially one where you have to sit and watch up to 10 minutes of repetetive nothingness to see if it worked or not.

I mean, at least in games like Hapland or Grow (I know, not neccesarily fair to compare to those) there is some obvious (or not so obvious, but it's still there) logical sequence you can go through to win.

Also if you look at the high-scores, some of the top machines are obviously exploiting bugs. I know the designers didn't intend for that, but, still...


I agree with Andrew; I think the waiting is boring.

Not only that, the physics must behave differently on different computers, because I've loaded a couple of the high score machines and all that happens is: the ball gets stuck bouncing around between a few bumpers and stays there for the duration of the run. So, after ten minutes of tedium, I don't get to see the rocket launch... I had to watch bushmobile's machine above to see that; which oddly resulted in a slightly different score (210160) than the one he quoted !

Shame really, I usually enjoy construction type games.

Nobody in particular June 29, 2006 2:50 PM

This one isn't a HUGE scorer but it is fun to watch and shows how the slightest difference in speed or angle can change the way the ball will travel through the same area multiple different times.


LiquidGlacid June 29, 2006 4:11 PM

That was kinda fun. Check it out.


Scott Shipley June 29, 2006 6:51 PM

how do you make those things that you click on?



First comment,
Jay I would like to say I love this site. I hope that you guys like my little creation.


Here is an elaborate one I made, low points, but launches the ship!



I've got a few challenges: (Note, beat=hit the button with the ball for these challenges)

  • Beat novice mode with 20 points or fewer.
  • Beat advanced mode with 40 points or fewer.
  • Beat expert mode with 60 points or fewer.
  • Beat novice mode in 1.3 seconds or quicker.
  • Beat advanced mode in 1.4 seconds or quicker.
  • Beat expert mode in 1.5 seconds or quicker.
  • Beat any mode by placing only one part.

Keep in mind that the time challenges vary from run to run (for example, my novice setup will range from 1.3 to 1.5 seconds) and also from computer to computer. These times may not be possible on old computers and may be laughably slow on the newest computers, however I doubt they will vary much either way.

If anyone does manage fewer points or a quicker time, I'd love to hear it, even if I'm unable to figure out how to achieve it.


Here's a tribute to JayIsGames:

welcome to the machine...

I can't say that it will launch the rocket, because I don't have the patience to sit and watch it for 10 minutes. Enjoy.


Sweeet! A JIG machine! =)

Tiralmo - great idea to extend play on this great little physics toy.

Scott - read my comment above. Click.

GuhBLeh June 30, 2006 4:27 AM

I gave up on my old machine and built a new one.
I beat the one part challenge. Yay. But I can't seem to get the low score on any of them.


P.S. Jay, the reason for the trouble with URL's is because your example says "<a href=" You left out the > after a.


If you copy my example above and paste it into the comment form as is, and then replace what's between the double quotes with the entire URL that the game emails to you when you send it to yourself, you should end up with a valid, clickable link.

I just checked and my example is correct.

Here's a quick reference for anyone interested in learning how to make valid HTML links using the anchor tag.

GuhBLeh June 30, 2006 5:16 AM


bushmobile June 30, 2006 6:56 AM

Low scoring (20) machine for Novice. Same layout gets you the 40 points on Advanced - couldn't figure the Expert one though - kept just missing the button.

Here's my one part machine


i got 74000...

here is a screenshot



The way it was meant to be played.
Score: 26230 (Fully Launches Loaded Spaceship)
Time Remaining: 7:28.8 (May vary for you)
Pieces: 60

Jason Rizos June 30, 2006 5:59 PM

I had some fun building this one with several areas, ends at just under 5:00.

check it out.

The DAKH June 30, 2006 7:24 PM

Awesome game! Is it a game or more of a toy, though? Semantics aside, I've been playing with it every free minute (or 10) since I saw the post.

Two of my boards:
1) Showing a hole in the physics/collision system with ~9:46 remaining.

2) My pet board. I had a lot of fun making and tweaking this one.

I've also found solutions to parts 1,2, and 7 of Tiralmo's challenge, but they look like GuhBleh and bushmobile's (almost--you can change placement of that first element and it still works).

It's fun seeing what people have come up with, and I hope they expand the parts set so we can see even more variation.

anonymous June 30, 2006 9:36 PM

I don't know if anyone else raised this, but it turns out if a small wheel (let's say clockwise) is to the bottom left of a triangle (hypotenuse to bottom right in this case) then the ball (Elastic works best) gets jammed between wheel and triangle (only if coming from left) and pops out later on the right after gaining 1000 points. Interesting.


here are just 2 simple machines... i didn't fashion them too much, they are very simple...
Click 1
Click 2

Nilrem54 July 1, 2006 11:11 AM

Im a big fan of the site. first time i have tried to post. here is a fun one i worked on for a little bit. not high scoring but i think its fun. takes almost 5 here


try to improve this

in my version i get about 20.000 but i think its a good beginning to crack the 100.000 wall,

plz try arround and let me know :D


xun- Your link does not link to your machine. Look above at jay's example. Remember to put quotation marks around the url, which, I believe, is what you forgot to do.


O.k. Last one, my best one - Great game. Too bad it doesn't award points for creativity. Best way to play is on novice with a Steel ball, just for playing around with the possibilities.


Nilrem54 July 2, 2006 3:03 PM

lets try this again.
Click here
or try this one
Click here



i call it, the meat grinder! score of 51,645


Here is what two minutes of me being creative can do. I know, not at all complex, and unluckily, it hits the button only one and a half minutes in. Still enough for the special launch though.

The Field

Tridion July 3, 2006 5:39 AM

In response to bushmobile in a presvious post -
Low-scoring Expert board

I realise its still a bit high at 90 points but /shrugs

First time poster btw, I love the site, very addicted to the games you post here. Keep up the good work Jay :)


I'm almost positive there's only the one solution for only 60 points on expert, and since no one else has found it I'll give a hint for it: The ball goes over the center octagon.

bushmobile July 4, 2006 4:48 AM

Tiralmo: that's what I thought, but the best I could do doesn't quite make it :(


I've completed tasks 1,2,3, and 7. The ball DOES go over the middle. Here's another hint: Use the wall.

xunling July 6, 2006 2:01 PM

nice one,

i think you could easyli improve my worxs, jsut modifie it...

its about 20k @ easy now, but im sure it could do much more :-D



Hi All -- this is JR over at JRVisuals... our company developed the Flash portion of this game / toy. Its been great reading all of your posts... the comments, the praises, and the constructive criticizm.

We especially love the Challenges that were posted and would love to hear more. We would also love to hear about any ideas for Parts Expansions as this is a possibility. Thanks.

One feature that was removed, and may help out,

was the ability to change the Flash _quality setting -- which, at LOW, makes the game look a bit crunchy, but yields better, more consistant performance. You can still do this by:

  • Right-Clicking on the game

  • Clicking Quality on the context menu

  • Selecting Low



I absolutely love your site, best game site on the web, no other has favorites, classics, and a randomized bar showing 12 different games. Plus,you hand pick the best games, while others take whatever any one gives them. So I made you this, a JayIsGames customized contraption that racks up just under 27000 points (just enough to get the special ending).-A dedicated fan, Josh


Cheers, Josh! That's pretty awesome! =D


Omigosh thanx Jay for that I'm totally buying a t-shirt on your birthday!It came up so fast plus you said it was awesome!Yay!


I now have the top scoring advanced machine,just under 50000 points!! Here it is...


Time for the one piece hard mode puzzle....


here's mine: NOTE: IT DOESN'T LAUNCH but it gets points :-)


I tried the machine in the screenshot with the metal ball.I left it going 4 ages but the noise was driving me cra-z


i have a challenge. can you get between 10000 and 11000 using exactly 22 pieces?

UtrojanSforceC January 9, 2008 4:40 PM

this game rocks!!! man i love it, i wish there were more games like it!


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