History of gaming timeline: specialism

The three ‘lenses’ I was given were Aesthetics, Trends and Game Art. I thought within this blog post I would talk about these in greater detail so I can implement them within my Timeline giving a more distinctive project.

One of the trends I have noticed within gaming is the use of 3d technology. In 1973 there was a title named Maze War and could be considered one of the first ever FPS games. The game play was simple, the individual would simply walk around a maze and if seen by another player who is displayed as an eyeball, the option to shoot them would be available so you would gain points from shooting your opponent. Aesthetically this was good as during 1973 the only real graphics that were available were overlays for monitors or single moving dots.

MAze war

Following up to this another 3d title was released called Spasim which was an MMOFPS (Massively multiplayer online first person shooter) which was released in 1974 by Jim Bowery. This game was a 32 player space simulation game which was played on the PLATO computer system.. It has also been called the first MMOFPS 3D game.

In 1983 the game I,Robot was created by Dave Theurer for the Atari 2600. It is known for being the first ever commercial game to be used 3d polygon graphics and also featured flat shading. Flat shading is a technique that allows each polygon to  be shaded a particular shade when taking into account the direction of the light source. Some other systems that allowed flat shading were the Namco System 21 and the Sega Model 1. On a side note, it was also known to be the first to offer camera control options.

Skipping on a bit, the next title I want to discuss is DOOM. This game was released in 1993 and was seen at the time as life changing as it had the most amazing 3d graphics at the time.  It is also regarded as one of the most influential titles within the games industry for being so popular as a FPS in its genre. The graphics for this game at the time were regarded as realistic after adding height differences, non-perpendicular walls and had full texture mapping, with various degrees of light to give diversity to each part of the game.

Looking today at the capabilities of 3d, it is safe to say we have come rather far. We use 3d all the time for example Nintendo’s 3DS which is a hand held console that can be taken around by the user and accessible at any time. It uses autostereoscopic 3d to produce a 3d like effect on the screen which allows the user to play in 3d without the use of glasses.  We have the Playstation Vita, Playstaion 4, Xbox One and the Wii U. It is has become the normality for consoles to use or atleast offer 3d capabilities and due to technology forever advancing we have only seen the improvement of titles such as Prince of Persia dating from 1989 to its current title which was released in 2013.

 

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History of gaming: 60’s 20/12/2013

Following on from my previous post, this post is a quick run through of the 60’s in order to understand what happened in the early years of game history. This is a follow up of my 50’s post.

1962 – The invention of ‘Spacewar!’ by Steve Russell. This game was a 2 player game which allowed the user to take control of a space ship, and the aim of the game is to destroy your opponent before they destroy you. The odds of being able to play this game were slim as it was only accessible at universities due to the computers being too expensive to purchase. Nearly 9 years after this, Nolan Bushnell took the idea, altered it (named computer space) and went on to create one of the world’s first coin operated game machines which gave you 90 seconds of play for a quarter.

1966 – Ralph Baer comes up with the idea for the worlds first at home game console. He wanted to create a piece of hardware which allowed users to be able to play games on their televisions. He thought games such as action games, board games and sports games would be playable on his device. The first game to be played was a sample game called ‘Corndog’ which was the first game to be displayed on a television.

1967 – The very first prototype of the ‘Brown Box’ was created which allowed users to play games such as Tennis.

1968 – Ralph Baer patents his idea and releases his video game system.

 

 

History of gaming overview: 50’s 5/12/2013

This blog post is a general overview of the history of gaming, in which I will pay particular attention to the key points in history. Although brief, this will be supported with visuals in order for you to see the build up of gaming before the point of my timeline project (My project is based around the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s).  The reason I have done this is so that you can have a reasonable understanding of the key changes in games.

1947 – A patent is filed by Thomas T. Goldsmith and Estle Ray Mann for a “Cathode rat tube amusement device”. The game created on this machine allowed the user to fire a gun at a target. Despite this invention being so iconic, it was never sold or marketed to the public. The first game for this was a missile simulation game which had been inspired by the war.

1952 – A. S. Douglass created the well known Naughts and Crosses (OXO) game on the Cambridge EDSAC Computer as part of his dissertation for Cambridge University. It never gained the success as other games because it was unplayable outside of the university as nobody owned the machine so you had to visit the university to play it. This game was considered the first to use graphics.

Here is a simulation of the EDSAC Computer running the game

1957 – Alex Bernstein, an IBM Employee, wrote the first computer chess program which allowed the computer to think four moves ahead. It was created on the last ever vacuum tube computers and took up to 8 minutes to make a move.

 

 

History of games: 90’s 20/11/2013

Some highlights of this era: Saga Saturn (1994), N64(1996), Playstation 1(1994), Gameboy colour(1998) SNES aka SUPER NINTENDO ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM (1990) Gamegear (1992) GAMES: Pokemon red (1998) Super Mario World (1990) FFVII Final Fantasy 7 (1997) Dreamcast (1998)

The 90’s was roughly around the time when we saw the fifth gen era which consisted of 32bit and 64bit graphics but also saw the introduction to the idea of 3D graphics with titles such as Sonic 3D Blast and Super Mario 64. The element of 3D gave gaming a new alternative feel to what we were used to and allowed us to become more immersed then we previously thought was possible. From a personal experience also, the gameboy was my first game console as a child so this era was rememberable for me, although I do recall several memories with my brother playing the N64, PS1 and the Dreamcast, so from my own personal experience this was one of my most rememberable eras as it was the first time I had played Pokémon and became immersed in something.

Time Girl (1993)

Tomb Raider (1996)

The 80’s was also a time when we saw mascots being used by companies in order to link their product with the company. For example Nintendo using Mario and Sega using Sonic, we relate these characters to their company so that they become rememberable. I personally think that the 90’s gave us more aesthetically pleasing characters due to enhanced technology allowing us to create more defined, diverse characters with better graphics in order to create better visually.

 

History of gaming: 80’s 15/11/2013

Donkey Kong Duck Hunt NES Qbert SAGA SGEA MASTER
Some of the highlights for this era were the NES aka Nintendo Entertainment System (1983) SG-1000 aka Saga Game 1000 (1984) Master System (1986) and the Atari 7800 (1984) GAMES: Donkey Kong (1981) Duckhunt (1984) Q-bert (1982)

This era introduced new factor to games design which was the invention of a scrolling background which allowed games to become longer and flow a lot better. Also during this era, sprites became more defined and began to take better form then ever before. We saw hit titles such as Donkey Kong, Metroid and Megaman 2. Later on during the 80’s we saw consoles entering the fourth gen which introduced 16-bit consoles which effected graphics dramatically as it allowed additional colours to be added to create more depth. I also believe that during the 80’s we began to see better intros, outros and title screens due to the graphical enhancement. Overall, the 80’s produced some aesthetically pleasing games such as California Games (1987) and Manic Mansion (1987); and with technology changing we began to experiment more with titles such as Dragon’s Lair (1983).

While doing my research I stumbled upon this really nice video which shows you briefly some games during the 80’s and their consoles.

nes and snes sonic

Later on during the 80’s we saw consoles entering the fourth gen which introduced 16-bit consoles which effected graphics dramatically as it allowed additional colours to be added to create more depth. Looking at the comparison to the NES and the SNES graphics, you can see the advantages of having additional colour added as it gives the character more depth and just generally makes the game look miles better. This sonic game was the first installment of the sonic series and looks amazing with its scrolling backgrounds and better visuals.

History of gaming timeline research: 70’s 13/11/2013

What I found interesting during my research is that there was in fact 31 console names I discovered during the 70’s alone while in our era we only hear about 2-3 released consoles being released and being put on the market.

1972 – Magnavox Odyssey

1975 – Atari sears tele-games pong system

1975 – Magnavox Odyssey 100

1975- Magnavox Odyssey 200

1976- Coleco Telstar

1976 – Fairchild Channel F

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 300

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 400

1976 – Magnavox Odyssey 500

1976 – The wonder wizard model 7702

1977 – RCA Studio II

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 2000

1977 – Atari 2600

1977 – Atari Video Pinball

1977 – Atari Student Cycle

1977 – Coleco Telstar Ranger

1977 – Coleco Telstar Alpha

1977 – Coleco Telstar Colormatic

1977 – Coleco Telstar Combat

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 3000

1977 – Magnavox Odyssey 4000

1977 to 1979 – Nintendo Color TV game series

1978 – Coleco Telstar Sportsman

1978 – Coleco Telstar Colortron

1978 – Coleco Telstar Marksman

1978 – Coleco Telstar Gemini

1978 – Coleco Telstar Arcade

1978 – Bally Astrocade

1978 – Magnavox Odyssey 2

1978 – Philips Odyssey 2001

1978 – Philips Odyssey 2100

1979 – Mattel’s Intellivision

magana

The Magnavox odyssey was referred to as ‘the brown box’ during its prototyping stage and was created by Ralph Baer in 1968 but was retailed in 1972. The Magnavox odyssey had roughly around 30 games and due to graphic limitations, overlays were placed over the players TV set in order to play particular games such as baseball or cat and mouse. These overlays were provided with the console purchase. The console produced two white blocks which both players would use to play various games using particular cartridges and overlays. This was the first early example of an 8 bit console.

1 2 pepsi space invadors

The Atari was a second gen console which became available in 1977, it was a 8 bit console which the video is handled by the 1.19MHz 6607 CPU with 128 bytes of RAM. IGN claimed the Atari 2600 to be behind both the first video game boom but also the video game crash of 1983. The reason for this is because the console had some amazing titles such as Jungle hunt, space invaders and breakout. The reason it was seen to have been behind the video game crash was due to Atari putting no limitations on who could develop games for its consoles and how many games could be distributed which ended up with the market being packed with poorly made games such as Pac Man for the Atari 2600 for numerous reasons for example its lack of consideration to colour scheme which confused players as the ghosts would flicker and blend into the background.

Due to limitations at the current time, the graphical designs of the games could only be basic in comparison to what is possible now.

If we take a look at the pepsi invaders, this was a modification of the original space invaders game and was commissioned to be made for cocacola in 1983 for their sales convention. I found this interesting as it was such a rip from the original space invaders and goes to show what was being done with the atari 2600.

 

RPG: Futher research > Tunnels & Trolls

T&T1

Tunnels and Trolls is an alternative to D&D, with a similar style and mechanics some could say it was highly influenced from D&D itself. What is unique about this particular alternative it allows for solo play as well as group play, and even play-by-mail. It was published in 1975 and managed to reach some markets before D&D, which was good for Flying Buffalo as they were able to make first impressions for many new RPG gamers before its rival D&D allowing the game to sell more copies than if they had been in the market at the same time. The maker of T&T (Tunnels and Trolls) said he had based his game around the highly famous Lord of the Rings novel, and due to the games success it was released in 1990 for PC. Another difference of this game in comparison to D&D is that T&T introduced a 6 sided dice and points-based magic system which was exclusive to T&T. Despite T&T not being as successful as D&D it is still widely known in the RPG world. Looking through a range of websites based on T&T, I found this interesting quote on T&T from Scott Haring from the 1999 Pyramid magazine.

In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Tunnels & Trolls as one of The Millennium’s Most Underrated Games. Editor Scott Haring said of the game “everybody knows this was the second ever fantasy roleplaying game … But to dismiss it as just an opportunistic ripoff would be grossly unfair. Flying Buffalo’s T&T had its own zany feel — it was much less serious than D&D — and a less-complicated game system.”

T&T is currently being financed through Kickstarter in order to produce a Deluxe edition better then the current 2012 french edition.

 

 

RPG’s research revisited 28/04/2014

In 1969 the book Chainmail was released by Gary Gygax and Jeff Perren which was a medievil minature war game. The creator of this book (Gary Gygax) went on to help create what we know today as Dungeons and Dragons. Dungeons and dragons is a fantasy role playing game which was designed again by Gary Gygax but also by Dave Arneson.

Chainmail

The first version of DnD to be officially produced was in 1974 by TSR Inc. (Tactical Studies Rules). The company Tactical Studies Rules was created by Gary and Don Kaye as Gary and Jeff could not find anybody who would published their product so decided to go into self-publishing and within one year they manage to sell out.  The game is still being produced and changed to this day with continuing success and a growing fan base, the game has even several digital game versions which include online play and also movies and books based on the fantasy within Dungeons and Dragons. There has been some negativity towards the Dungeons and Dragons game with the ‘Steam Tunnel inncodent’  in which Patricia Pulling’s son sadly passed away due to suicide but she blamed Dungeons and Dragons as the main cause. Due to this, Patricia set up BADD (Bothered about Dungeons and Dragons) which dedicated itself to the regulation of Dungeons and Dragons. In protest, She even created a book called ‘The Devils Web: Whos stalking your children?’ and several smaller books protesting against Dungeons and Dragons.

BADD

From personal experience, I have played Dungeons and Dragons and it is by far one of the best games I have played with its ability to be replayed but still have such amazing storylines make it good value for money and I would advise anybody to play it as I have enjoyed partaking on a few D&D (Dungeons and Dragons) sessions with my class (as shown below). I will have a post in regards to one Dungeons & Dragons session in order to comment on its mechanics etc in detail to go towards my research.

DSCN0909DSCN0910

Computerised RPG Game: The idea

My game is going to be about a young character (Luna) who gets lost and ends up losing her parents in the middle of a busy village, due to this he gets kidnapped by a gang of strangers and ends up in the middle of a forest with the gang. Luna ends up in despair after noticing she has been kidnapped, in which triggers off her unknown magic ability in which she is able to free herself from the rope which once bound her and to find her parents!

Genre of game: The game is based on a ‘sword and sorcery’ theme as I think this was would be an interesting idea for me to develop because of the range of game materials I could use to research and explore this idea.

Aesthetic/look and feel: the game is a 2d spite top down game. The reason for my choice is because I find that I would be able to work with 2d more effectively and produce a better outcome.

Game idea (the introduction)

The story begins by Luna being woken up by the sun shining through her tiny bedroom window and her mother standing by her side. She informs Luna that today is market day and that they needed to travel to the nearest town. She tells you to hurry up and get dressed, and to meet her and her father outside. Luna collects her items from her trunk, then exits the house to meet her mother and father who are both waiting. Luna is traveling with her parents to the local village in order to purchase supplies at the market. Luna becomes distracted by a near toy stall in which a large group of children surround the stall itself, curious, Luna decides to see what is happening at the stall and alerts her parents that she will be over at the stall but what she doesn’t realize is that they do not hear her over the voices of the large crowd. She scurries over to find that the children are watching a magic show, in which the performer sees you observing and asks if you want to partake in a trick in which before you can answer, you get pushed through the gathering of people and join in the trick by the magician. Unknowingly to you, you are being observed by a group of strange men who notice the rattling of the money bag on your waist belt.

After the trick, you then wade through the crowd to try find your parents who you then see have disappeared along with the crowd. You panic, then suddenly you are approached by a group of men and then the screen blacks out. You awake, and discover that you have been unconscious for a few hours (judging on the darkness outside), you have lost all your possessions including your money bag and seem to be suffering from amnesia. You know you are meant to be somewhere but despite not knowing where you panic, it is when you are panicking that you notice that you are tied up to a wooden support within the building. You begin to shout, cry and plead but with no response in which you begin to become angered. Soon after your anger builds up and you notice a sharp pain run through your body in which you cast your first spell (fire) that sets the opposing side of the building a light. You are surprised at your ability, and are able to cast the fire spell on the rope to free yourself and quickly leave the building.

Once leaving the building, you are approached by your kidnappers who are frantically trying to put out the fire you have started although it becomes too wild. During this, the gang leader approaches you and starts fighting you, in which you manage to defeat him which scares off the remainder of the gang. The lead gang member had your items so you manage to retrieve everything and you discover a note which talks about you and where you were kidnapped, you think this will help you find your identity so you leave to find the village you were taken from.

This is a quick description to an opening cut scene from my game. I hope to recreate the moment you discover your fire power within an animation to give an example of what the game looks like.

Character Design: Why is this important?

Character design is extremely important part of games design, and using it effectively can create the most beautiful and surreal experiences for those playing. This means that creating a good character design is important, but how do we define good character design? One thing I would like to particularly discuss is the characters that are defined by the ‘Vin Diesel Approach’ (No, this is not a technical term, although it really does describe it perfectly so should be!) in which the male characters are created with similar aesthetics in order for the player to project themselves onto that character. It appears to be that this is done because it’s easier for the player to relate themselves to that design by creating such a bland character. In my opinion this can be both good and bad. Good because it allows the player to immerse themselves on a deeper level and get more involved with the story as they become projected onto the character. On the other hand, this could be bad because you don’t get empathy for the character so this could cause issues for the game (depending on the game of course). Naturally, this often happens for the female characters too although the females tend to get overly sexualised. Linking this to my last CATS session, we discussed the topic of sexualisation of woman and we agreed that sexualisation within female characters is becoming less frequent within games. I think sexualisation occurs in both male and female characters, but more debated in the female characters. Some woman think ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ in regards to sexualisation within female characters but others feel as if it is a poor representation of woman and is promoting the wrong points. I feel sometimes when sexualisation is used too heavily it can really take away from a character, as the focus shifts from the woman’s personality to her appearance. The game industry is constantly changing and maybe in the future we will begin to see a change in regards to character design as a response to the debate on the representation of females within gaming, although personally I don’t there to be an easy solution to this.

Relating back to my first question, how do we define good character design? Well, it’s simple really. In order to create good character design it takes a lot of planning and thinking your character through. Other than the basic characteristics of your character such as hair colour, eye colour etc, you need to take other details into account for example; If the character acts a particular way, then you must think of the standard ‘how? What? Why? Where?’ Why is the character acting this way? How does he put himself forward? Etc. Another example being if the character is a mute, what is the reason for this? When did this occur? Every detail of your character must have a back story to how they gained that detail of themselves.