Sunday, 8 November 2009

History of computer games take 3

So we've seen how game have come to be a household name amongst not only children but now evermore so, older gamers .Even the likes of pensioners thanks to Nintendo's innovations. But with so much changing in only the past 30 years were do we go from here. Has the visual impact of game visuals reached a limit of can we expect to blur the line between what's real and what's virtual? I believe virtual reality is not so many years into the future and may take over this new idea of revitalising old 3d technology that's becoming very popular in cinemas and even more so with computer game now that new monitors have the ability to hit 120hz refresh rates and Nvidia's vision glasses. Not so many weeks ago I watched Ortis on the gadget show to a piece on “the future of gaming” . If games got so real could we expect to see a ban or restriction on graphical content or would the evolving mature of what we as humans see, pass judgement on what we now call inappropriate. Look at what would have been classed as scary back in the 50's and 60's (the blob 1958). In 50 years time can we expect a life like war simulation as close to real life as it can get without actually being on the front line nothing more than entertainment. Or how about fooling our brains into different senses like smell and tough. What about the training implementations for example, firemen could do drills on real life locations. Actually feel the heat from the flames and feel the force of the water coming from the hose. Or people could experience flight like superman and have the sense of the air blowing past them.
So were does this take the industry and what can we expect it to demand from us in the future? In the last 20 years the learning curve for developing game content has got higher. New ways to add realism involves more work, but does that create more jobs? Games today rival some of Hollywood's biggest films. The integration of cinematography for example. I was reading an article on a website, Gabe Newell from Valve was talking about how the Team Fortress 2 shorts had helped Valve develop there ability to create film. Then how its applied to there intro of Left for Dead and now in my opinion even more impressive is the intro for Left for Dead 2. They look cool and are entertaining to watch, but there purpose is nothing more than a tutorial for game mechanics when playing the game. In a different light the developers of the new red faction game made there physics engine so accurate that the mapping team had to almost learn to become architects when they were designing building because all the structures in the game can be destroyed. But if the structures weren't able to support themselves they would simply fall to the ground before the player was able to do it themselves. So are these drastic measures games company's need to do to keep the industry fresh and exiting, or is it a natural progression of development for artists? If it is then us budding, new game artists have a lot of catching up to do!

History of computer games take 2

So its the 80s and the console era is just on the cusp of world domination right? Well no not just yet, as games come from arcades into the homes games company's like Atari saw this as a massive cash cow. For example PAC man would be the first major game to be ported onto the Atari 2600. Now a prototype was sent to Atari by Tod Frye who worked for the company, but Atari wanted the game out for the holiday season and actually released the prototype. But that's not best of all, after the release of the film E.T, Atari obtained the right for the game and gave the developers only 6 weeks to release, market and produce the game. As you may have guessed no one liked the it and most demanded a refund. Atari even sent them to a land fill and poured concrete over them. It wasn't only poor games that almost destroyed the game industry, the were simply by this time too many consoles to choose from. Some even had add-ons to play games from other consoles. Not only this but Atari never kept tabs on publishers releasing games and almost anyone could create titles. This flooded the market witch left consumers with absolutely no confidence in the game industry. This is known today as the North American game crash of 1983 which most people may not ever realised happened at all. It was only really apparent to the industry as consumers still played games at arcades witch were just as popular as ever.
It wasn't till 1985 that we saw the release of the Nintendo Entertainment System and shortly after the Sega Master System which mainly dominated the Europe, Australia and Brazil market as the NES was extremely popular in America. This is were the console wars truly started as Nintendo and Sega were now the major players in the game industry the 8-bit war had started. It was then that Sega retaliated with the Megadrive (or genesis for those over the pond) which was a 16-bit machine. Sega had it in there heads that being faster was better. They released the Sega CD and 32-bit add-ons but Nintendo still had better game with the likes of Mario, Zelda and Metriod. That's were Sonic came in and became Sega's official mascot. With Nintendo's hardware becoming more and more dated and Sega now taking a larger part of the market, Nintendo's 16-bit next-gen console was released, the SuperNES. This console would see Nintendo claiming the crown.
Until he beginning of the 90's, this gave birth to CD consoles and 3D graphics with the release of the Sega Saturn and Sony getting a peace of the action with the Playstation. This saw the end of the SNES and after many delays gave birth too (in my opinion and help from local developers RARE) the most revolutionary console to hit the industry was non other than the Nintendo 64. I could make lots of points about why I think this to be true, but it would probably be best in its own post as this one has gone on long enough as it is but the one thing that I hated about this console was the decision to keep cartridges. OK, so it eradicated loading times but there were very expensive, and put off lots of developers. Also the target audience seemed to be aimed primarily at kids unlike the broader scope that the Playstation offered. By this time it seemed like a three legged race, but no-one could have for-scene how the industry would pan out as the next generation of game consoles were on the horizon.