Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Video Game History (2000s to present)

In 1998 Dreamcast opened the next generation in consoles. Dreamcast would be Sega’s last console and this generation of consoles saw Sony rocket to success with PlayStation. Nintendo was still in the mainstream but had fallen behind in Sony’s shadow. Valve debuted with their first game Half-Life. It later would be released on PlayStation 2 in 2001.
In 2000, shortly after Dreamcast came the PlayStation 2 which was an instant success. Nintendo released the GameCube a year later and didn’t do as well because it was labelled as a kids console and lacked third party games.
In 2001 Microsoft entered the console market and released Xbox. The console had sold relatively well but sold considerably more when Halo: Combat Evolved was released for it. In this console war Xbox managed to beat the GameCube in sales but PlayStation 2 was the winner with its massive sales. Grand Theft Auto III was also released this year and because of its open world feature and commercial success it is considered a milestone in gaming. Although the GameCube had not done as well as the other generation consoles Nintendo dominated the handheld market. The Game Boy Advanced was released and helped keep Nintendo’s market position. The N-Gage was also released but failed to pull any significant sales. The consoles released more mature games and Nintendo tried to stop their kiddy image by releasing T and M rated games. This included games such as Eternal Darkness and Resident Evil 4.
2002 was the year PCI Express was considered standard and helped games develop more detail and more complex systems to produce higher quality games. It also starts the rise of computer games and the use of internet within games.
In 2003, Valve released Steam. Valve’s aim was to use Steam as a way to install updates for games and soon found publishers to release their games on the Steam Network. This was enforced during the beta with Counter-Strike updates.
In 2004 Nintendo released Nintendo DS. It introduced handhelds to two screens but also touchscreen. It was a major success for Nintendo which rockets their sales. Bundled with Nintendogs it was also targeted to females.  2004 saw the release of World of Warcraft. It is the most successful MMORPG to date. Although it used a lot of ideas from RPGs and other MMOs it was the only one that became a massive hit and really pushed PC gaming online. Half-life 2 was also released on PC this year. The sequel to Half-Life, it introduced advanced physics, animations, AI and graphics and became the best-selling PC game.
2005, Sony released PSP very soon after the Nintendo DS. Although it had superior graphics and power it didn’t appeal to the mass consumer so Nintendo remained the leaders in the handheld market. Later in the year Microsoft released Xbox 360. It sold out in all regions except Japan and offered Xbox Live service to all players and introduced the arcade games download, game demos and trailers on the Xbox Live system. Special Edition Xbox 360 consoles were released with big title games such as Halo 3 and Resident Evil 5.
In 2006 Nintendo released Wii and Sony released PlayStation 3. Wii revolutionised modern gaming with the controllers using motion to control the game mechanics. It was a massive success for Nintendo and sold more units than Sony and Xbox with their rival consoles. Wii had several flagship titles expected to be released shortly after the console. It also featured Super Mario Galaxy which was a new dimension for the Mario series being introduced to space and gravity. This was released shortly after the console in 2007. Nintendo also released Nintendo DS Lite which was a lighter, slimmer and brighter.
With the next generation of consoles released by 2007 it set standards for future consoles. The addition of hard drive space and motion controllers continued to be introduced to updated models of the consoles. The consoles also rivalled PCs with the amount of power and processing the systems had.
2008 was the year Grand Theft Auto IV was released. It broke record sales in its first week and Nintendo released Wii Fit which made a great hit with consumers to get fit in their homes. PC games become very popular with the release of World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, hard core online gaming began to form and many tournaments with prize money and live streaming took place to boost the PC gaming scene.

In 2009 Wii Sports became the best-selling video game of all time.

At the beginning of this century games were starting to utilize 3D. With the constant upgrades made in processing and graphical processing it allowed games to become more complex and more detailed. This meant for a higher quality in games and took longer to produce. Many games were delayed because of this and many more remain delayed with the high standard asked today. There are many pressures now with studios trying to make high quality games in little time and also adding new technology to them including motion control. The industry will be pushing motion control for a long time and develop much more wholesome games but at a soaring cost and expense. Most games today rely on a massive sale to make back the money the studios put in to making these games but many aren’t able and with the recent downturn in the economy many companies are finding themselves out of business spending too much money on making top quality games.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Video Game History (1980s to 1990s)

1980 saw the release of Unix which developed Dungeon and DnD, the first of many role playing games. This was also the year intellivision came out. It had superior graphics to the atari 2600 which soared to success. 1980 also so the most successful game of all time released. Namco designer Moru Iwatani decided he was fed up with the generic shoot-em-ups and wanted to make a game that everyone could enjoy. Inspired by a Japanese folk hero 'Paku', he had the idea of a pizza with a slice missing going around eating other food. Instead of a pizza a yellow circle was used because of the graphical restraints of the time. It was renamed Pac-Man because of the change that could be made to the name. It was released in Japan and became a massive hit and was later released in North America by bally/midway and also became a massive success. It also became the first game to release merchandise including t-shirts, mugs and lunch boxes. In 1982 Mrs. Pac-Man was released to encourage women to get an interest in games.

Also in 1980, Nintendo released Game & Watch handheld gaming line. This encouraged other companies to release their own handheld video game consoles. 

By 1981, the arcade game industry was generating an annual $5 billion. In 1982 that peaked to $8 billion. This generated more money than pop music and Hollywood films combined. It also generated twice as much money as the home video games industry. Also in this year Donkey Kong was released. Created by Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, it was the first true platformer game which allowed you to jump over obstacles and across gaps.

1982 saw the release of the most influential scrolling shooters, Xevious. Pole Position was also released in this year and used the style of a horizon view behind the vehicle which is used in almost all racing games today.

1983 was the year Mario Bros was released. Again developed by Shigeru Miyamoto, laid down foundations for future two-player platformers. At the end of 1983 and early 1984 saw the video game crash that was more severe than the 1977 crash. Many companies went bankrupt and reportedly Atari buried thousands of cartridges in a landfill because they had so many left.

In 1984, Karateka was a beat 'em up game which had advanced rotoscoped animation. Kung-Fu Master, based on a Hong Kong film laid foundations for side-scrolling beat 'em ups. David Braben and Ian Bell created Elite. A vehicle simulation game introduced the age of modern 3D graphics. The NES Zapper was the first mainstream light gun which came packaged with Duck Hunt in this year.

1985 was the year Dragon Slayer II: Xanadu was released and is considered to be the first fully-fledged action role-playing game with character stats and large quests it set itself apart from the RPG genre. Super Mario Bros was also released this year. Famicom (NES outside Japan) was released this year and revived the video game market in North America. It was the dominating console right up to the 1990s when the next generation consoles were released.

1986 saw the release of The Legend of Zelda. Released by Nintendo, this series of games defined action adventure games. It took ideas from other genres of games to create a hybrid game with puzzles, action, adventure and RPG elements. This is also an early example of open world gameplay and introduced back up saving. Dragon Warrior (later renamed Dragon Quest) was one of the earliest console role-playing games. It set the template for future RPG games and inspired other game companies to create their own series. Metroid, also released by Nintendo, was the earliest game to add elements in platform games and action-adventure games. It also had elements from RPGS where you could explore the level freely and accessing new areas through items or abilities.

In 1987 Maniac Mansion removed text inputs for adventure games. LucasArts built the SCUMM system which allowed a point-and-click interface. Sega released Phantasy Star and Square released Final Fantasy. Both RPG games generated successful sequels even today. Final Fantasy used a side-view turn based battled system which was used in most future RPG games. Phantasy Star and Megami Tensei used a modern/futuristic setting to stand out from the medieval setting that other RPGs used. Street Fighter, released by Capcom, introduced the use of special moves in the fighting game genre. Metal Gear, developed by Hideo Kojima, was also released and became the first successful stealth game which enabled the Metal Gear series to continue.

1989 saw the release of Prince of Persia and became the first cinematic platformer. Herzog Zwei was also released this year and was considered to be the first real-time strategy game. SimCity was released this year and would later become one of the few games to have an almost 50-50 ratio of males and females playing it.

1990 saw the decade that defined 3D graphics in video games. It gave rise to first-person shooters real-time strategy games and massive multiplayer online games. Handheld consoles also started to become more popular thanks in part to Game Boy. MUD codebases DikuMUD and LPMud were released and helped develop MMORPGs(Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) which lead to the release of games such as Ultima Online and Everquest.

In 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog was introduced. It caused Sega's Mega Drive console to gain mainstream popularity and became the rival of Mario, Nintendo's series. Sonic became the face of Sega and is one of the most recognized video game characters to date.

1992 was the year Dune II was released which helped develop later RTS games to a standard which would become massive hits. Alone in the Dark was released this year and became a very popular survival horror. Mortal Kombat was first released this year on SNES and Genesis and became very successful. The release of this and Street Fighter II helped revive the dying arcade scene. This didn't last long and many arcades were force to close down.

1993 is the year Myst was released. It inspired a new type of puzzle-adventure games and was one of the first games to utilize the full potential of the CD-ROM storage. Atari re-entered the market with Atari Jaguar. It didn't sell very well and eventually stopped being produced.

1995 saw the release of PlayStation and Sega Saturn in North America. Playstation sold out compared to its rivals apart from Nintendo's SNES which was still getting games released on it despite it being an aging console.

In 1996, 3dfx Interactive released Voodoo chipset. This lead to the first affordable 3D accelerator cards or graphics cards for the personal computers. This lead to more detailed 3D games and one of the first games to take advantage of this was Quake. Quake also utilized the use of internet to play with other people. This became a requirement in FPS games for the PC. Other genres started to use this feature including Blizzard's Warcraft and Starcraft. Resident Evil was released this year and became the first well known survival horror game. It's considered one of the best games for Playstation as it sold so well.

1997 saw the release of GoldenEye 007. It was critically acclaimed for innovation for being a console exclusive game. It also introduced scopes, headshots and objective mission which became standard in later similar games. Final Fantasy VII was released this year on CD. Square had decided to move from Nintendo to Playstation because Nintendo decided not to use CD which seemed to have bad side effects such as this.

1998 saw Z-targeting being used for the first time in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Dreamcast was released this year which opened the sixth generation consoles. It was the first console to have a built in modem and though it was successful when it was released it quickly died off with Sega's poor reputation and the anticipation of the Playstation 2. Dreamcast became Sega's final console.

This era of games history was a big leap into 3D. It also saw the console wars begin and the massive push to advertise consoles with flagship titles. It also so the decline of arcades but introduced a much bigger variety of games including PC games. The major games companies had their mascots, the faces that would connect with the consumer and see massive success for these companies. The rapid development of how games were made and looked really showed how much the games industry had become so big and how much money they had to use to be able to develop further.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Video Game History (1950s to 1970s)

In 1947, it is believed that the first game made on a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) was created by Thomas T. Goldsmith Jr. and Estle Ray Mann. There was a patent filed in this year and was later issued in 1948. The game consisted of you firing a missile at a target using several knobs to control the missile. There was an overlay on the monitor with targets drawn on them because at the time there was no graphical way to put them on screen with the missile. Although it’s believed to be the first instance of a game being created it is not considered to be one because it didn’t generate video signals for displaying on TV sets or monitors.

In 1951, a young man called Ralph Baer is said to have come up with the idea of playing games on a TV set. He worked at Loral, a TV company, where he was asked to ‘Build the best television set in the world’. He pitched the idea of playing games on TVs as well but his boss didn’t approve it. Although his idea was turned down he would later build ask Bill Harrison to make a system. This was later released as the Home TV Game. 

In 1952, another man called A. S. Douglas was writing a thesis on Human-Computer interaction and showed his work through a graphical tic-tac-toe game displayed on a CRT using the EDSAC vacuum-tube computer. This is the earliest graphical game.

In 1958, Willy Higginbotham created a game using an analog Donner computer connected to an oscilloscope which was used to display the game. The game he created was called Tennis for Two which was controlled by two people to play against each other. 

In 1961, Stephen Russell along with Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen experienced vector graphics. The game was a simple space shooter which consisted of little space ships controlled by the users. This game would be known as SpaceWar!. They noticed that the stars were being randomly generated by the debugger program and decided to make some changes to improve this game. They added the actual constellations with moving stars. Finding the game was still easy they progressed by adding a sun that had a gravitational pull on it. Although this didn’t qualify as a game because it didn’t use video display it was a massive step forward into games entering the family home.

In 1969, Ken Thompson, an AT&T computer programmer wrote a video game called Space Travel. He built it on the MULTICS operating system which AT&T pulled out of shortly after. Thompson ported the game to Fotran code which ran on the GECOS operating system. At the time it cost $75 an hour to run the game on this system so Thompson sought out a cheaper alternative. While learning the assembly language for the PDP-7 the development for Unix began.

In 1971, Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney created the first arcade game. Called Computer Space, based on Stephen Russell’s SpaceWar!. Nolan Bushnell created Pong a year later and the two of them formed Atari Computers the very same year. The later re-released Pong as a home video game.

In 1972, the Odyssey was released. This was the first commercial video game console that could be played at home. Released by Magnavox it was designed by Ralph Baer. The console was programmed with 12 games.

In 1974, the company Kee Games released Tank. The game was designed by Scott Bristow and gameplay consisted of two tanks weaving in a maze while avoiding land mines and each other. The game was significant because it used ROM chips to hold graphical memory. This allowed for more complicated detail.  Tank became the biggest selling game of 1974 so Kee and Atari merge. 

In 1976, Fairchild released the first programmable home games console called Fairchild Video Entertainment System. This was renamed to Channel F. This console was one of the first to utilize the newly invented microchip, created by Robert Noyce.

In 1977 many manufacturers sold their systems at a loss to clear stock. This caused a glut in the market and forced Fairchild and RCA to abandon their game consoles. Atari and Magnavox remained despite making a loss in 1977 and 1978. The crash was eventually ended with the success of Space Invaders created by Taito in 1978.

Space Invaders sales boosted the games industry with massive sales which lead to the golden age of arcade games. It also revived the home video game market.

Over these years only a few of the games that were created were considered as games and only so many of them became successful and significant in the future of video games. Although the games that were created would have significance on future programmers developing I don’t believe that they were as important as Pong. Pong was the game that everybody played when it was released. If Pong hadn’t of become as successful as it did I don’t think the video games industry would have been developed so early.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Introducing Me

My name is Jessica Drabble. Most people call me Jess which is what I'd prefer to be called.

I was born in South Africa and have moved about quite a bit since then. I have lived in England most of my life but have seen a good few years spent in America, South Africa and Ireland. I currently live in Loughborough.

I heard about the Game Art Design course a few years ago when I was 16 and thought it was something I hadn't seen in England before. After completing my HNC (Higher National Certificate) I had the thought for a while to go to university. I looked up Game Art Design again and thought that sounds right up my street. The modules I had done in my HNC seemed similar to what Game Art Design was offering. I left it for a couple of years not really thinking about it again until last year when a friend of mine was coming back from university. This was the best opportunity I was going to get for a very long time and took the chance to apply. I signed up to UCAS and did my best to get accepted.

Now that I'm on the course I'm looking forward to what I'm going to be taught. I really hope that my over all drawing ability will improve and that getting into 3DS max again will help me be more creative in 3D and not just in my art. So I hope at the end of this course that my skills have improved overall and that I become a much more creative mind.

My interests at the moment are building computers or trying to! I also enjoy roaming deviantart for artists that inspire me and I also enjoy watching rugby when it happens to be my home nation playing.
My dream job would be a character artist or environmental artist. I think that's something I would really enjoy, making people or places from my imagination and then bringing them to life or something out of this world! Some examples of jobs in some games companies I'd love to work for:

All of the jobs listed require the applicant to have the essential skills, to be able to produce high quality and unique artwork. You need to understand colour theory, lighting, visualization of a concept, the feeling of art so it ties into a story and meaning. All of the jobs also ask that you seek out feedback from the team you work with, be able to discuss your work with the lead artist, director and producer so you can create what is asked of you and what is needed for the game you are working on. 

Essential skills for these job roles are of course the ability to draw to a very high standard and knowledge to be able to produce exceptional art. Most companies ask that you have experience working on a previous game that has been released.  A lot of companies ask for +1 years experience in the games industry in a similar role using programs you would need to work with such as photoshop and 3DS max. For 2D and 3D character artist you are required to understand the human anatomy and understand lighting and how it affects the human shape.  For environment artists you need to be able to show other team members your ideas through clear communication skills, this includes sketches and colour schemes as well as high detailed art. You also need to show a willingness and eagerness to learn new software and tools to improve yourself. One important skill that is needed is to be able to drive yourself while you’re working, motivation is required to be able to work at your best in the position you apply for.

There is a lot that is asked of you when applying for a dream job like this. I’d say that I’d have the drive and knowledge of programs as well as ambition to learn more so I can improve in my art and 3D ability. I also think I have the ability to ask questions to my superiors and that their feedback is something I can use to improve my art. 

My understanding of human anatomy and environment development are ones that I really want to focus on improving. I want to learn a lot more about modeling so I can be proud of the high quality models and assets I create. I also want to learn new programs so I can have a variety of skills in digital media. One important thing that I really hope I can improve on is the acceptance of criticism of my work and the confidence to show my work to a large audience. I think that it’ll help me to be much better at something I’m really passionate about. The hard work and focus required for this course is going to show through in the end and help me tick all those boxes I need to get in to that dream job.