Thursday, 27 October 2011

Games of the 1990s

In my last blog I looked at the general advancement of our gaming technology and how our changing attitude and interest towards games drived this progression forward. The way in which our technology and its capabilities improve impacts what types of games we can play an even how we can play them eg. how the creation of the wii and xbox kinect has changed the way we play games massively.

During the 1990s our consoles began to improve hugely and
the video games available also took some significant steps

forward. The years 1987 - 1996 housed the fourth generation consoles, a time when 2D graphics improved from previous consoles and experimentation with 3D graphics started to occur. The Sega Megadrive was released in the late 1980s (1988) and brought with it such games as; Altered Beast, Streets of Rage and Road Rash. The SNES and the Neo Geo weren't far behind and were released in 1990.

From this point on consoles had become capable of supporting more advanced and complicated games and many of us will of started our interest in games somewhere around this time. Filling the cap before the next big console release was a steady flow of good video games. This included; Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Super Mario World, Mortal Kombat, Mario Kart, Air Combat, Ridge Racer, Star Fox, Virtua Fighter, Killer Instinct and Earthworm Jim.

From 1993 - 2002 was the fifth generation consoles, the 32/64 bit era and the time when video games began to evolve into the 3rd dimension. The Playstation 1 and Sega Saturn were launced in 1995 and the N64 followed shortly after in 1996. With the introduction of these consoles the CD (or Compact Disc) started to replace and bring about the decline and end of cartridge games. Due to load times of CDs the N64 remained loyal to the cartridge but became one of the last mass produced consoles to use them.

As before the release of better more powerfull consoles lead to a stream of more advanced games. These included; Time Crisis, Resident Evil, Crash Bandicoot, Golden Eye 007, Final Fantasy 7, Odd World, Grand Theft Auto, Grand Turismo. Rainbow Six and Metal Gear Solid.  Handheld gaming also took a step forward during this time with Nintendo's release of the Gameboy Colour.

Right at the end of the 1990s the sixth generation of consoles was kicked off by Sega's launch of the Dreamcast in 1999. The dreamcast introduced several innovations including internet gaming and it was really the pioneer for online gaming. The dreamcast had a large libray of games counted as 688 offical games with many unoffical releases, this included; ChuChu Rocket!, Crazy Taxi, Eco the Dolphin, Fur Fighters, Marvel VS Capcom 2, Shenmue and Sonic Adventure 1 and 2. Despite its early success the Dreamcast was prematurely discontinued due to the release of the PS2 in 2000.

The 2000s brought about huge changes in video games and consoles with big advancements in games and the launch of the PS2, Xbox, Gamecube, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii and several handhelds all within the same decade. I will be looking at the 2000s and what it brought in the next blog.....yay for next gen! 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A history of computer games, part two: 1980s - 1990s

Arcade machines
I'll start this blog with a little about the 'Golden Age of Video Arcade Games'.
The arcade game industry entered its golden age in 1978 with the release of Space Invaders by Taito, a success that inspired many other manufacturers to enter the market. Arcade machines became more mainstream  and could be found in places such as shopping malls, storefronts, restaurants and convenience stores. The total sales of arcade machines increased significantly during this period and the arcade game industry would continue to generate a large revenue through to 1985.

I think this growing interest in video games only expanded through the 1980s and 1990s and fuelled the industry, driving forward the move from arcade machines to home consoles/computers. Following the success of the Apple II and Commodore PET in the late 1970s a series of cheaper rivals emerged in the early 1980s. During the 1980s many more home consoles were released including, the Commodore Vic 20 and 64; Sinclair ZX80, ZX81 and ZX Spectrum; and Atari 8-bit family, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, and MSX series. These rivals helped to drive the  both the home computer and games markets forward.
At the end of 1983, the industry experienced the "crash" of the video game industry, as well as the bankruptcy of several companies that produced home consoles. It brought an end to what is considered to be the second generation of console video gaming. Causes of the crash include the production of poorly designed games such as Custer's Revenge, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and Pac-Man for the Atari 2600.

The years 1983 - 1995 gave birth to the 'third generation consoles' which included the launch of the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) which was bundled with  Super Mario Bros. and became an instant success. The gamepad or joypad, took over joysticks, paddles, and keypads as the default game controller included with the system. The 8 directional-pad (or D-pad) became the standard and is still used in todays controllers.

Nintendo's NES
Nintendo's GameBoy

Video gaming started to really advance graphicly in the 1990s and it was a decade of innovation. Graphics moved from raster graphics to 3D and several genres of video games were born, including; first person shooters, real time stratedy and MMOs. Handheld gaming also began to become popular due to releases of handheld consoles like the Game Boy in 1989.
The 1990s was also the time when the gaming industry matured into a more mainsteam form of entertainment. More publishers, higher budgets and larger production teams working with the music and film industry were major developments in the 1990s and lead to an improvement in games.
The increasing computing power and decreasing cost of processors caused the rise of 3D graphics, as well as multimedia capabilities through sound cards and CD-ROMs.

I think the 1880s and 1990s were the time of great shift in the video game industry in several different ways. Games began to be more mainstream through the advancement and popularity of arcade machines, which in turn lead to the increase of home video game consoles. The huge success of home consoles fuelled the industry and in a relatively short space of time experianced big improvements in graphics and afforability. The shift from gaming on public arcade machines to home systems was a very important part in video game history.

Monday, 17 October 2011

A history of computer games, part one: 1950s - 1970s

I'm one of those people who thought computer games began with pong way back in the 1970s. So I was shocked to find there was a lot more going on even before that. Most of us were born around the late 1980's or 1990's and were born into a world were PCs (although dated now) were current and easy to come by. The first computers and games seems long ago and we've developed and improved so quickly its surprising how advanced games are now compared to their beginnings.
And their beginnings is what I'm going to try comprehend....

Computers themselves began life as the 'Difference Engine' created by Charles Babbage and its almost impossible to believe the desktops we have today ultimately come from this. Computers and their technology have a history and development line and while this is important (we wouldn't have games without the machines they run on) I think it would be too much to try focus on computers, their history/ development as well as games within the same blog!

I think computer games started when William Higinbotham created the first video game ever in 1958. His game, called "Tennis for Two," was created and played on a Brookhaven National Laboratory oscilloscope.
Spacewar! developed in 1962 was the next computer game to be created and is generally assumed to be the first real computer game. The operating system used was the first to allow multiple users to share the computer simultaneously. This was perfect for playing Spacewar, which was a two-player game involving warring spaceships firing photon torpedoes.
In 1967, Ralph Baer wrote the first video game played on a television set, a game called Chase.
In 1971, Nolan Bushnell together with Ted Dabney, created the first arcade game. It was called Computer Space, based on Steve Russell's earlier game of Spacewar!.

And then 11 years after Spacewar! was introduced the first commercially available video game, Pong was released in 1972. Pong quickly became a success and helped paved the way for the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's game play, and eventually released new types of games. And thus video games and their industry began.

I think computer systems and games have evolved and advanced massively over the recent years and our continued development is only making them better. New hardware is constantly being invented meaning games can develop and advance with them. Looking back at its early begins its hard to believe how far everything has come in a relatively short space of time and how far it has yet to go is an exciting prospect to be part of!

Bring on the future.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Hi My Name Is....

My name is Sarah Hesketh and I'm currently a Game art student at the DMU.
I only really got into Art & Design 2 years ago when I did a drawing short course and a bit of life drawing. I'd always enjoyed art but not even thought of pursuing it until this point. My life has always revolved around games from a very young age and once finding the Game art course at the DMU set my sights on getting here and combining my interests.

I did a BTEC 1st in Art & Design at Derby college and then the Foundation here at the DMU. The last two years have been somewhat of a struggle as I didn't enjoy or have much interest in what those courses were about but the end result of being where I am now is what drove me through it.

I'm not a person to do things by half and when I do something I really throw myself into it, I'm hoping that is going to help me keep on top of this course and keep me constantly learning and improving at what I do.
I don't honestly know right now what I want to do in the future, or where I want to be or who I want to be.
I didn't even know I wanted to do game art until a few years ago. I'd love to be working in the game industry in the next few years but I don't know doing what yet...I admire game art but personally find 3D modelling more who knows what I'll do.

My goal at the moment is doing well on the course. I aim to constantly push myself to improve and never settle with something when I know I can do better. I want to try my best at everything offered on the course and see what comes out on top and I'll go from there.

Hopefully I'll be here this time next year and I'll get to read all the new 1st years 'Hi my name is.." blogs.
We shall see...