****This is a Research paper that I typed up for my college English course. I think its decent but I figured I would get some other opinions on it. Always looking for some conversations, especially on good topics.****
The Evolution of Gaming
By Cory Marko
Games have gone through some drastic changes over the past few decades. They have been called the king of entertainment, when others have called them tools of destruction. They have grown from the fond memory of 8-bit Atari graphics to the stunning DirectX 10 that borderlines photorealism. It has evolved into a form of entertainment that almost anyone can sit down and enjoy. Sadly, video gaming is still in its late childhood stages and with every new step we take towards bigger and better games, a new wave of obstacles follows quickly behind.
Some terms may be used in this essay that may not be understood without a moderate knowledge of computers and video gaming. Terms such as, DirectX 10 and GPU, will be used often. “DirectX 10 is the latest version of the DirectX suite of multimedia application programming interfaces (APIs), puts gamers and multimedia buffs on the leading edge of PC graphics performance.” (Vista, 2007) A GPU is a Graphics Processing Unit, the processor within a video card that deals with the graphics and calculations and forms together what you see on the monitor. A Wii-mote is the advanced controller for the new gen console known as the Wii which utilizes motion capture in a 3D playing field. The SixAxis is the controller for Sony’s next-gen console known as the Play Station 3, it utilizes “sensors designed to read when a player angles, tilts, thrusts, or pulls, the SIXAXIS controller allows game play to become a natural extension of the player’s body.” (Sony, 2007) The term RAM means random access memory, RAM is used by the computer to organize and run programs. Many terms such as; DDR 1,2, and 3, DIMM, and VRAM are used in association with RAM. DDR stands for Double Data Rate, DDR2 is the second evolution of DDR RAM, and DDR3 is the third. DIMM stands for Dynamic In-line Memory Module which is the port that tells the RAM what to do. VRAM is Video RAM, which is RAM located on and utilized by the video card itself.
Video game consoles are amazing tools for entertainment. The first unofficial video game console was released in 1961 and was know at the PDP-1. Although, technically considered a computer for its time, the PDP-1 would later be released as the first stand-alone video game machine. In 1972, Magnavox unveiled the Odyssey 100 video game machine, which was to be the first official console. Shortly after that the Fairchild Video Entertainment System, otherwise known as the Fairchild Channel F, was released. It featured a better graphics engine and several more games than the systems before it’s time. The Channel F had 26 official cartridge games including a Pong clone, Hockey, Sonar Search, and a Space Invaders clone. In 1983, the Famicom was released by Nintendo in Japan. The Famicon was later released in the United States under the name, Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). “It supported high-resolution, full color, tiled backgrounds, and high-resolution sprites. This allowed Famicom games to be longer and have more detailed graphics.” (Classic, 2007) The fourth generation of consoles, also known as the 16-bit era, began in 1987. The 16-bit era’s famous consoles were the Sega Genesis in 1989 and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. The 32/64-bit era swept in with a big bang. The Sony Playstation and the Nintendo 64, the first consoles capable of rendering fully 3D video games, stoked the flames of change as the gaming industry moved its focus from side-scrolling and rail-style games to the new world of 3D gaming.
Graphics in video games have made significant achievements throughout the last several decades, more specifically the last two decades. The days of playing Asteroids, Centipede, and Gravitar on our classic 16-bit Atari 7800’s isn’t that far behind us. Yet, we are quickly approaching graphics quality of photorealism. One of the most impressive achievements in gaming is the leap from the two dimensional (2-D) graphics style to the three dimensional (3-D) graphics style. The first example of this advancement on the Personal Computer (PC), prior to the introduction of Microsoft Windows, is called Spasim. Spasim, which was short for space simulation, graced the market in 1974. “Spasim was a 32-player 3D networked game involving four planetary systems with up to eight players per planetary system, flying around a space in which the players appeared to each other as wire-frame space ships and updated their positions about every second.” (Spasim, 2001) The big change came with the fifth generation of systems with the Playstation in 1994, Sega Saturn in 1994, and the Nintendo 64 in 1996. These three systems crossed video gaming over into 32-bit/64-bit era which gave rise to fully 3D console games. Super Mario 64 and Tomb Raider have been marketed as two of the first fully 3D console games. With the focus on the new 3D games, the gaming industry strayed away from side-scrolling and rail-style game play and into a style with much more freedom. Game play and graphics continued to evolve along with the continuation of the Nintendo and Playstation series’. Computer gaming also continued to evolve at the same rate as the console evolution.
During the beginning of the Sixth Generation, around the time of the release of Sony’s Playstation 2, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Microsoft’s Xbox, there was a massive surge in computer gaming. The introduction of Windows XP in October of 2001, gave way to a whole new world of computer customization and thus opened new gateways for gaming. PC crowds divided into several factions; the media enthusiasts, the gaming enthusiasts, hardware enthusiasts, which is closely tied to the gaming faction, and the casual user. Microsoft recognized this and released three versions of Windows XP; XP Home for the casual user, XP Professional for gaming and hardware enthusiasts, and XP Media Center Edition for media enthusiasts. With the new Windows XP operating system, came new features, such as “plug and play”, that made customization and updating much easier. The separation of the video card from the motherboard opened a whole new market for gaming and hardware enthusiasts. For the first time a user could purchase after market video cards that were far more powerful than the onboard video cards of the previous era. More and more performance/enthusiast based companies emerged and PC customization skyrocketed. Companies such as OCZ and Geil began manufacturing performance RAM built for enthusiast systems, which are more powerful than Mushkin or Kingston Memory, which are directed toward the average user. ATI and NVida provide users with a source of performance video cards and Intel and AMD provide users with a source for performance processors.
Video gaming has evolved into one of the most power tools of entertainment imaginable. Although it still faces problems around every corner, it manages to provide users with activity that stimulates the mind and improves hand-eye coordination, among other things. From fast paced first person shooters like Counter Strike and Half Life or massively multiplayer online role playing games such as Lord of the Rings Online and EVE Online, users can find games to suit any taste. Once the gaming industry breaks free from its remaining shackles it can become recognized as an extremely useful tool and possibly one day even as a sport, like it is in so many other countries
Crytek's upcoming title, Crysis, has been catching interest since day one of its unveil. With graphics that are baby steps away from photo-realism and highly-immersive game play this game is going to be a hit for certain. From the demo, I have seen some of the functionality of the "Nano-Suit" that Crysis prominently features. I found the suit to be incredibly fun and fairly believable. The control scheme for triggering the suits functions is quick and easy making it a key tool during your battles as well as out of combat situations. Only one function can be used at a time and for a limited amount of time at that. The suit has a small energy charge that is used upon activating any of the functions and is expended after about 15 to 20 seconds and recharges somewhat quickly.
For the sake of immersion, I decided to take some time in the very beginning to toy with my suit and see if I could come up with a theory on how it could actually exist and function in the real world. Since the suit itself is made up of a high-quality synthetic material and its placed on the body in an arrangement that closely resembles muscle tissue placement, this was easier than I thought. Upon seeing this I remembered a Popular Science article that I had stumbled across a small time ago. The article described a suit that was being developed that assisted the user's muscles and joints in order to amplify capabilities. Since there were no images of said suit my mind developed a mental image looking fairly similar to the Crysis Suit. The suit was worn over the users bare skin almost like a second set of muscles and acts like them as well. Supposedly able to sense and gauge the amount of effort being put forth by the user and when commanded to, amplify it by up to 60%(stats from the given time, may have improved). There was no mention of any resistance to gun fire, however, it seemed likely that it would be the next step. The re-chargable energy source I figured to be achieved through a conversion of the mechanical energy created through movement into electrical energy which would be stored in some sort of capacitor and most likely assisted by a small moderately powered battery. As for the other functions of the suit, if it interests you, you are more than welcome to message me and discuss. I finished my theory and pre-paired to play through the available missions.
The game begins with a very immersive sky dive out of a military plane. A maniacal smile quickly grew on my when I saw the quality job done on motion-blur and texturing. I don't want to give away much of what was in the demo, because I would like for my readers to play the demo themselves and experience the game in their own way. I will give a few of my feelings on the game though. I was very impressed with the amount of "goofing off" I was able to do between objectives. I spent quite a while toying with the environment and establishing my limits. There was extensive exploration of everything I could get to, a sufficient amount of plate throwing and watermelon smashing, and a nice bit of crab-throwing to spice things up. I buckled down and progressed through the missions, my curiousity ofcourse getting the best of me every chance it got. Having played the demo on my new eVGA 8800GT, this game was exceptionally beautiful and visceral. Unfortunately, the maximum graphics settings where unavailable in the demo, with reason, and due to my dislike of Vista I did not use any of the games DX10 features if there are any available in the demo. I had quite a bit of fun making use of the suits functions, often for things like cloaking to get behind someone and then breaking necks or flipping trucks over and throwing people. With practice you can ration your energy and form combos with the suit.
Overall I found this demo to be very entertaining and visually stunning. I will be purchasing this game as soon as possible and will recommend it to anyone who likes FPS's and/or has an eye for immersion and top end graphics. Of course, if Destructoid were to mail me a copy of the game and ask for a full review that would be even better. (hehe that would be excellent)
P.S. If I can find a link to that article about the suit I will toss it in this blog or in the comments. :P Happy Reading.
A very High-Res image of one of the character heads Very cool.
Epic Games, developers of the acclaimed Gears of War, has announced in a press release that Unreal Tournament 3 has officially gone to gold master on the PC. The press release states:
Midway and Epic today announced that Unreal Tournament 3 has gone to gold master for the PC. Developed by the team behind the critically acclaimed video game Gears of War, Unreal Tournament 3 is currently scheduled to ship in North America on November 19th for the PC with a suggested retail price of $49.95 and $59.95 for the collector's edition. The PlayStation�3 version will follow soon. Unreal Tournament fans can get a taste of the compelling first person shooter by checking out the previously released single-player trailer below, or download the beta demo.
Condemned 2: Bloodshot, the sequel to the lovely 2005 game Condemned: Criminal Orgins, looks like it will be quite intriguing. For those who haven't played or read about Condemned, it's a very immersive, disturbing, first person shooter that follows a character named Ethan Thomas. He's an FBI agent trying to catch a serial killer, after a quick string of events he finds himself in a terrible situation with two dead police officers. Now with the police after him he must he must resort to hunting the serial killer through the underbelly of a dying city to prove his innocence. Bloodshot starts out a year after the events of the previous game and continues to follow Ethan Thomas. The disturbing and horrific events of Ethan's recent past have a scarred man. He has taken up drinking and has just about hit rock bottom.
In an interview with Frank Rooke, creative director on the game, he touched base on several aspects of the game. "The overall goal is to have environments that are inherently creepy", says Rooke. The thick atmosphere Condemned 2 is trying to achieve will be, in large part, due to the new AI characters which will "help create that sense of fear". Condemned 2 will feature a completely re-worked multi-layer combat system. The player will be able to “dunk guys in dumpsters or woodchippers. You can break arms and legs, and you can do fisticuffs, with brand new fighting styles”, says Martin Caplan, Associate producer. There will also be a Condemned-style multiplayer side of the game available. Unfortunately, very few details have been released on that aspect however Martin Caplan does finish by syaing, “you’re definitely going to be able to do creepy things to complete strangers and more importantly your friends”. Condemned 2 is scheduled to release in spring of 2008. If you havent played the first game I highly suggest it and I will have a complete review of this game when it comes out this spring.
As you may or may not know EVE Online has been running a Direct X 7.0 engine. However, EVE Online's fan base and has been steadily growing larger and larger. CCP Games, the company behind EVE, has decided that its about time to freshen things up a bit. CCP Games will be releasing a monsterous completely free expansion that will take the graphics engine from DX7 up to DX9 with DX10 support (the face-lift) as well as add a rather large amount of new content (the boob job). This is just was the EVE crowd has been waiting for. This massive update will release sometime in November of 2007, sorry I couldn't be more precise.
The content update will include:
- Heat damage attenuation and repair while in space
- Better drone management capabilities
- Mid-flight bomb deployment capabilities along forward trajectories
- Attribute Reassignment Modifier (ARM) scripts to modify bonus attributes of sensor - boosters, dampeners and tracking modules
- Eased transition from rookie to elite pilot with revamped New Player Experience
- Fleet integration and enhanced management of fleet operations with EVE Voice
- Hundreds of new kill missions and a re-introduction of mining missions
- Multi-frequency probe for more versatile exploration
- Faction loyalty points store items
- Black Ops battleships – For undetectable infiltration and covert operations in hostile territory
- Marauder battleships – Optimized for massive damage output to spearhead assaults in enemy territory
- Suppressor Heavy Interdictor cruisers – A more lethal interdictor whose warp-jamming suppression sphere moves with the ship
- Specter Electronic Attack ships – For quick propulsion lockdown and sensor suppression of enemy ships
In addition to that, CCP announced that they are releasing a new game-play system that is reactive to the players actions and Factional Warfare. One of the most talked about additions for this expansion is the "out of ship" content. For the first time players will be able to leave their docked ships and roam the fun filled corridors and streets of each space station. Players will be able to go into shop and bars and do whatever they like. Some words have been thrown around on the topic of mini-games within the stations, I haven't heard anything official but what I've heard is talk of darts and pool and drinking in the bars. Players will also be able to carry out new missions that specifically involve leaving your ship to assassinate someone, deliver a item, or just start a rumble in the streets. Below are some pics of the new graphics for the ships and links to a few Official Dev Blogs from Eve Online.
Here are links to dev blogs; Devblog 1Dev Blog 2 Here is a very nice Audio Dev Blog Audio Dev Blog here is a link to an album of pictures of the new graphics Album Thanks to Crazykinux for the photos.