|Konspekt: Video Game Design Revealed By Guy W. Lecky-Thompson
| postitati 26.1.2010 06:30
Konspekt: Video Game Design Revealed By Guy W. Lecky-Thompson
kiirkonspekteerin siia, ylevaateks.
| postitati 26.1.2010 07:16
1. A Brief History of Video Games
In the Beginning ...
1958: Willy Higginbotham was a physicist with a penchant for games, and he created a tennis-style game that, according to the
Brookhaven National Laboratory, used logic that was implemented by vacuum tubes (even though transistors existed at the time).
This was in 1961 on a machine that cost $120,000. At the time that pinball was attracting people to amusement arcades in
droves, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology student, Steve Russell, created Spacewar! while working on Digital Equipment Corporations'
...first home video game system in 1971. Ralph Baer, while working for a military contractor, devised a machine that allowed people
to play games on their television sets. This idea was sold to Magnavox
Having been immersed in the Spacewar! experience while a student at the University of Utah in 1962, Nolan Bushnell came up with the
idea of creating a cabinet with a machine inside that was capable of playing a single game.
Still embracing the "one machine, one game" principle, Atari released a home Pong system in 1974, a simple affair
and brainchild of Alcorn, Harold Lee, and another engineer, Bob Brown.
The key (and a point that should not be lost by any video game designer) is that Bushnell and Atari saw the commercial opportunities
in what they did, in the same way Bill Gates and Microsoft saw the opportunities in partnerships with IBM in the early days of the personal computer.
They share one thing in common—popularizing the technology that caught their imagination.
Japanese in particular seem to have bucked the trend toward home video game playing. There will always be a market for the video game arcade cabinet,
but it is shrinking due to the success of home (and even mobile) entertainment.
There are two areas that seem to be of interest, with two entirely different cultures—the casual gamers who do not even own a console
and use a PC purely for practical tasks, and the hardcore gamers who will play (in a group) anytime/anyplace. This latter group is
important, because hardcore gamers represent a market that will own a console, play in the privacy of their own home until they have perfected their
art, and then go out to the amusement arcade to show off to their peers.
...phenomenon in October 2002...The game was Dance Dance Revolution (DDR; in Europe, Dancing Stage Euromix).... this appeared to be
the most popular and accessible.
The idea was deceptively simple. You dance, cued by the music and arrows on the screen. Your score is a reflection of the accuracy with which you
follow the arrows and music. It is not, however, the score that counts as much as the way in which it is achieved. People who have never danced before
in real life, but who play video games, are lured onto the stage and have the showperson in them set free to kick and scream.
The point is that this is social gaming revitalized. The players show off to their peers, invent new ways of playing the games that
the manufacturer (Konami, in the case of DDR) probably never even dreamed of... appeal to hardcore gamers and casual gamers, alike.
first cabinet, Computer Space (Atari), developed Pong
—Asteroids. It was a simple, line-drawn, monochromatic affair, shooting things
boom decade for the arcade industry
...usually sprite-based affairs, with two notable exceptions: I, Robot, which in 1983 brought fully shaded polygons to the arcade
world for the first time; and Star Wars, also in 1983, which relied on simple, four-color wire-frame graphics.
...white-noise explosions to expansive musical background tunes and the catchy pumping beats of games such as OutRun (1986).
...multiplayer gaming, with cabinets such as Super Sprint (1986), which boasted three sets of controls, a top-down, sprite-based view
of four-color racing vehicles speeding around a variety of different tracks.
Sega, Konami, Atari, SNK, Nintendo, and Taito, among others, were all formed in arcade ventures.
Sega released the first-ever isometric arcade game in 1982, called Zaxxon.
isometric view started a trend that saw, in 1984.
...more impressive fighting games of a genre that was started by Yie Ar Kung-Fu. The big three, Street Fighter II (1991), Mortal
Kombat (1992), and King of the Fighters '94 (1994), continued a craze for pitting two fighters against each other.
...basketball simulation in NBA Jam(1993), a magnificent puzzle game that required the player to pop bubbles in Uo Poko (1998), and
the 1990 hit Smash TV, which required the player to look in eight directions at once to avoid being nailed by an advancing ring of robots.
This last game also introduced the concept of firing and moving simultaneously in different directions.
...change in arcade (coin-op) game technology from the heady 70s, through the boom of the 80s, and into the high-tech, low-cost 90s.
If the designer ignores history, he may well end up designing a game that evokes the inevitable comparison with some other game (and maybe one that
the designer has not even had heard of). On the other hand, some failed games made use of techniques and technologies that can be combined with an
original idea to make a good game great.
Street Fighter II (SFII) "combos"—devastating combinations of impossible moves that add bonus points and decimate the opposition.
(Historical note: These combos were actually inspired by a programming bug, which illustrates another reason for extensive play-testing.)
...since certain games, like Dance Dance Revolution, do not really need advanced graphics; they rely on bizarre peripherals, great music, or other
A sprite is simply a collection of dots arranged in such a way as to suggest a shape that can be associated with an object, either
real or imagined.
One of the first games to use sprites was Space Invaders.
It simplified the job of the designer and programmer, since each sprite had a set number of possible places that it could appear on the screen, as
well as a predefined sequence. All that the programmer needed to know was which version of which sprite to display where, and the underlying hardware
took care of the rest.
Shaded polygons were a breakthrough in 1987 with David Branen's Zarch.
Bright primary colors and simple, blocky polygons dates a game to the late 1980s, while detailed, multi-polygon, high-definition graphics tend to
place a game in the 1990s.
Action games are easy to place, because the fast pace means that processor time is at a premium. Often, graphical complexity had to be
sacrificed in favor of reaction speed.
Puzzle games are slightly more difficult to date, and closer observation of the colors and resolution of the sprites is the only real clue. The
more color and detail, the more recent the game (generally speaking).
Sports simulations are easy to date by virtue of the amount of detail that the principle characters have in their rendering, as well as the
backgrounds. Animated, seemingly varied crowd movement will place a game in the early 1990s, while static crowd backdrops and blocky, sprite-based
athletes tend to point toward technology used in the 1980s.
first home entertainment units appeared right after their arcade counterparts in the mid- to late 1970s.
One of the principle reasons that the home computer was so popular in the 1980s was that enthusiasts could learn to write programs for them
...gamers realized that they could, if they chose, alter the way in which the game reacted to their play style, and even enhance their own character.
Cheating and hacking (in the video game sense of the word) was born.
Shareware is still a good route, since it removes the need for a publisher.
Many games come with built-in editors.
Gamers have become game developers, making what was good even better—and in some cases, even perfecting an otherwise flawed release.
...there are only three major manufacturers of home consoles—Nintendo, Sony, and the relative newcomer, Microsoft.
The evolution of consoles has more or less followed a similar evolution in the arcade industry. In fact, the technology that drives both arenas is
more or less common.
In the beginning, 1976, one machine meant one game or several variations on a theme.
There were tennis-based games, soccer-based games, and shoot-em-ups.
...then manufacturers started to put screens on the systems and make them self-sufficient.
The LED (at first green and black, but then color) screens used in these models relied on the fact that when lit, they were visible, and when not lit,
they weren't visible.
...one-game-only systems...there might have been different levels and even different speeds, but the graphics were predetermined.
These machines are cheap—not nasty, just limited—and can be played via television or on the move. Then came Nintendo.
Nintendo will always be famous for bringing us mobile gaming.
The Game and Watch machines were great. ...pure-black and not-black LCD display...you could see the figures etched into the plastic underneath...
same principle as LED sprites, but because a liquid was used inside the screen, the curvy lines required by the cartoon-style graphics could be
On top of that, they had a watch and alarm, so parents could claim that they were valid household items.
GameBoy...brilliant...trick is that they use an LCD screen comprised of pixels (small dots) and use an easy-to-program sprite system that
takes much of the graphical work away from the developer. Simply design some sprites, tell the machine where to put them, and you're on your way.
Atari tried to muscle in with the Lynx, a system that did not take off...
...mobile telephone gaming...exchange (publishing) is also easy, from downloads to peer-to-peer sharing of the game.
Cartridges, CDs, and DVDs
...invention by Atari of the game cartridge (cart). Carts were the medium for distributing games and contained a certain amount of real
gaming logic, as well.
Computers need something to execute (a program) before they will do anything interesting. This program needs to be entered into their working memory
in some way. The program can be typed in, but when the power goes off, everything that was typed in is lost. In the first computers, cards were used;
the programs were encoded as holes punched into them.
For the early mass market, such as Commodore, audio cassettes were used to store the programs, which were then loaded into the computer...
loading a commercial game often took somewhere between 5 to 10 minutes...So they decided that the games needed to be delivered some other way; and the
game cart was born. From the start, carts were meant to be left in the machine while the game was being played. Plus, the cartridge was difficult and
expensive to copy, and thus kept piracy rates down.
...cartridge is restricted to about 32KB (in the first cartridge-based systems) to 2GB (in the case of the Nintendo DS).
PSP (PlayStation Portable) make use of the UMD format.
PlayStation 2 (Sony) contains specific hardware to prevent it from playing non-Sony DVDs. The PS3 contains similar technology. At first, Nintendo did
not even support generic DVD playback on their platform, meaning that movies could not be played, and therefore games were harder to pirate. Xbox and
Xbox 360 (Microsoft) adopt similar tactics.
Naturally, most platforms also have so-called mod chips available that will allow the owner to play DVDs and copied games.
A recent trend also supports hard drives as an extension to the console—the Xbox 360 and PS3 both ship in versions with hard drives.
| postitati 29.1.2010 16:59
2. Introduction to Video Game Design
The bottleneck will always be the hardware platform—and rarely the software tools or ideas that are implemented.
Single-player games work best when the player has the illusion that they are up against a fallible opponent. This can be the player himself, as in
Breakout, or it can be marauding aliens, as in Space Invaders. On the other hand, playing against an opponent that always makes the
right decisions gives the player the impression that it cannot be beaten. Plus, single-player Pong, with a player-controlled paddle against a
machine-controlled one, lacks the essential fun factor. The key to making games attractive to the consumer is to add a special twist
that makes them unique and more fun than what has gone before.
A good gameplay idea will make a good game, even if the graphics are low on the technological curve.
A video game genre reflects the core ideas of the designer.
Cross- and mixed-genre games often end up as genre classifications of their own.
The game's emphasis is on split-second reactions, intense concentration, fast-paced action, and, of course, an intense fun experience.
"Action games are arguably the most popular genre for both PC and console systems. But there are many different flavors of action games. Half-Life,
for example, is a 3D shooter but adds a deep, involving, story element." Saltzmann, M., Game Design: Secrets of the Sages. BradyGames, 2000.
...many different genres and subgenres that involve cerebral involvement at a higher level, rather than just shooting anything that moves. More often,
though, the action portion is merged with something deeper, which has resulted in some more-refined gaming genres.
First racing simulation (rally cars, motorcycles, Formula 1 simulations) - more competitive style, than action games (player vs
Racing simulations introduced the concept of the player versus other players, who may have been computer controlled, but who were striving toward the
same goal. This paved the way for multiplayer sports simulations.
The second simulation style again harkens back to the player-versus-enemy theme—this time in a realistic war style, and includes
classics such as Steel Talons.
...player is immersed in a cockpit...control possibilities are no longer restricted to up-down-left-right; more-complex and sophisticated control
systems are introduced.
Sports Simulations A beat-em-up (Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat) is to the sports genre what the shoot-em-up
is to action arcade games.
...how do we separate these from racing games? - sports simulations are usually based on humans controlling non-mechanical vehicles, including
themselves, and this sets the games apart from those based on controlling a mechanical vehicle, such as an automobile or aircraft.
Sports Management Simulations The low-level graphics expectations simply mean that the rest of the game has to shine.
While pictures are largely believed to be possibly the most important form of sensory input in real life...early adventure games were based purely on
Based on exploration, puzzles, inventory management, and general strategy (plus a
pencil and paper for making a map), adventure games drew the gamer in and made them think.
...part of the attraction is linked to why people often prefer books over films, sometimes to the extent that they will say the book was better than
the film. The human imagination's ability to create images from words is often more powerful than the display of graphics. Some people, however, just
do not have this level of imagination and prefer their images served to them on a plate ... No criticism intended, different people enjoy different
Sphinx Adventure - Acorn Electron - early 1980s - 16k of memory - 16,384 characters, or roughly 2,730 words.
Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs) - Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).
Text-mode adventure games gave way to text-and-graphics versions (such as The Hobbit, a computer game adaptation of Tolkien's
Leisure Suit Larry franchise marketed by Sierra Online.
..with intense gaming experiences like Myst, the adventure game genre moved to purely graphical interfaces. These replaced typed-in
phrases, such as "EXAMINE BOOK,"
with clickable hotspots on the screen.
2007 with the first winner of an adventure game called Perplex City that combined game cards, the Internet, and
real-world locations to solve a variety of clues to find the Receda Cube.
Not only could the winner keep the treasure, but they also received a cash prize. The entire two-and-a-half-year-long game was extremely popular, and
the creator is going to do the whole exercise again, but make it episodic next time around, so players can enter at different stages. They no longer
have to be in it from the start to have a chance to win something.