Monday, 27 October 2008

The middle Ages of computer games

The 'middle ages' really started around the second generation of computer games. With the first generation being the already explained arcade and simplistic 'Pong' type games, the second generation of games, were for the second generation of games consoles, E.G the Atari 2600, Matell Intellivision and the Colego vision.

These consoles were a giant step forward from the consoles of the first generation such as the clunky arcade machines and scientific calculators. These consoles were specifically designed for home use, they were user friendly and designed with the only purpose of entertaining.

Yet unlike the 'Pong' console, these systems allowed the user to buy different games, often stored on cartridges or tapes, and play a different variety of games.

The first of the second generation consoles to hit the market was the Atari 2600 in 1977. The Atari 2600 made famous the plug in cartridge games, though it was not the first! The 'Fairchild Channel F' was the first console to have cartridge games, though the release of the Atari overshadowed the Fairchild's poorer graphics.

In related news, the Atari 2600 was the first console I ever played, and it was owned by my childhood friend Sam, whom I have known for 15 of my 19 years!

Three years after Atari released the 2600 and during Atari's dominance of the market, Mattel released the 'Intellivision'. The Intellivision console featured graphics far superior to anything on the market, and their advertising slogan was 'The closest thing to the real thing'. This console was only on the market for around ten years, and in those ten years it sold over three million units at a market price of $299!

Two years after the Intellivision the 'ColecoVision' console was released, not much had changed except the different games and better graphics, a trend still seen today. However, The ColecoVision did not see the booming sales of the other consoles. But it had better graphics? surely with a growing industry it would see large sales?

At this point in the industry, things started to go pear shaped. With three major consoles overcrowding the market, and a glut of poor quality games making the industry look poor and foul, the industry crashed in 1983/4.

These poor games are exemplified by a game called 'Custers Revenge' created by a company called 'Mystique' who made a collection of pornographic games for the Atari 2600. In the game 'Custers revenge' the goal of the game is to move General Custer across the screen, and rape a native American woman while dodging arrows.

These poor games put a lot of people off video games consoles, and created a lot of bad press that stopped potential customers taking interest in the industry, that, coupled with hundreds of companies creating games for an uninterested audience led to many of those companies going bankrupt. With so many companies going broke, there was little incentive for new developers to start in the industry and as a result things ground to a halt.

However, the third generation kick started things again with the NES (Nintendo Entertainment system) in 1985, which really became popular in 1987.

On my next blog entry, I will talk about the modern Era, and how I believe the industry is looking. Until then farewell.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Motivation station

Its strange...

For years in my life I have had somewhat of a problem with motivation. Whether its waking up on a Saturday before 12pm, or brushing my teeth before I go to bed. I almost always used to have trouble committing to these tasks. I just 'couldn't be bothered'.

I have been gearing towards becoming a professional 3d artist for three years now, but knowing I should be drawing and working, and actually committing to it is something else. I used to just read a bit of theory, admire someones work, then get halfway through a 3d model using someone else's photo for reference.

Lets not lie, I was lazy, and lets face it, you snooze you lose. No game artist got their job because they were lazy and their artwork was crap. I'm not going to get into an interview based on my drinking achievements or my ability to sleep like no other. I will only get a job if I am fucking good.

This prospect is scary to most, myself included. After these three years of university... Will I really be that good? The questions, the insecurities, the positive beliefs and the doubts are swimming amongst our little first year minds. And in most cases I should be shitting myself.

But here is the thing - I have come to university in a city I have never lived in before, after a long trip around America. I have managed to enrolled on a course that inspires me, and motivates me like I have never been before.

Right now, or before I wrote this blog, I was packing my sketchbook full on little thumbnails, repeating, practicing, and nailing my single point perspective. My friends are out drinking, as I would normally be but here I am, in my bedroom, spending much less and learning. And its not a chore, I've not been set it by a lecturer. I am doing it because I want to, because I enjoy it, and because I am motivated to be the best artist I can be.

I have come from a very shit 2d art background. I have generally had little confidence in my drawing abilities. I have always known I can draw, and often I can draw orthographic images for characters, but I would never draw an environment for fun, or to practice anything. Becasue there was nothing to practice, no theory, skill or technique with which to refine. But now I find myself enjoying it, repeating it, and downloading dvd's by 'Feng Zhu' (but I diddn't tell you that). Because all of a sudden I have a technique that I enjoy using, I have a new way of looking at and thinking about pencil strokes, I have a reason to draw.

I love learning new, I love getting better, I love feeling motivated, and because of that I love this course. In only three weeks I have learned enough to see an improvement in my work, and I can't wait for the future...

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Oh how the world is changing

I am generally a very open minded person, while I might be thinking of a funny joke to make about someone or something, I never usually mean it. I just enjoy the challenge of finding the joke and delivering it. But some small things really get on my nerves.

In a personal project I was working on during my free time today, I decided I would make a young trick or treating girl with a knife and brains in her bag (I stole a competition brief just for practice).

What the hell does a young girl look like? I really cant say as I've ever drawn one before and I need reference pictures, but here is the thing. How on earth am I supposed to get reference pictures of a young girl?

I can't bring myself to type 'young girls' into google, and its not like I can go down the park and take pictures of children on the swings for fear of being slammed onto the sex offenders list with the other half of Leicester.

Society just gets silly after a while, don't get me wrong, I am all for just laws and rules. But health and safety is really starting to take the piss. My Auntie (love her to bits) tripped on the single bad paving slab on her walk to the shops and sued the council, or BT or which ever chimp couldn't figure out how to align squares.

Now I love my Auntie, but how about she just looks where she is going? Its one paving slab, shit happens, there are a lot of paving slabs in the country, I can't imagine it is feasible for the council to go around checking on paving slabs every day (though with the standard of todays education it might be a good way to reduce the number of spongers taking dole)

If I trip up, its my fucking fault, just get up keep walking, suing almost sounds silly.

In America, if someone falls down, and I go over to help them, and touch them god forbid, they can sue me till I bleed. But, if I walk off and don't try and help them, they can also sue me (apparently). What the fuck do I do? Fall over as well, hey if we are both hurt no one gets sued right?

Its fucking pathetic, I can't even run in tube stations wearing a puffy jacket and tricking people into thinking I had a bomb (Best way to ensure you get a seat and a quiet journey).

Its silly, I used to love my country, now I just live here.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Early History Of Computer Games

I know its hard to believe, but computer games have been around for longer than some of our parents, yet they never played them? A strange thought, why is it that we, the new generation have a huge following in computer games, yet the generation that pioneered and first made them, have often no interest? It almost seems rather ignorant, but this blog entry will briefly review the early history of computer games, and answer the one question that really makes me think... Why do our parents hate computer games?

Where did it all start?

Shockingly, computer games were first coming into a playable state around 1952, in the form of Naughts and crosses. A simple game, yet a tough task for young A.S Douglas in the university of Cambridge, England (Take that yanks!). Studying a PHD in Human-Computer Interaction Douglas used the universities EDSAC computer (Essentially, a giant stick of Ram) to start the games industry. However, The game was programmed for, and only worked on the universities EDSAC computer, and therefore was not the most accessible game made.

What next?

Later, in 1958, William Higinbotham designed the computer game 'Tennis for two' on the Brooklyn National Laboratory's Oscilloscope. While the game was once again a healthy development for the computer games industry, it was also once again designed for a specific piece of scientific equipment. And was not accessible to the general peon public.

But things started to improve for joe public in 1962 when Steve Russell Invented the game 'Spacewar!' designed for computer use! This was better, because a handful of people owned computers, while still rare, they were still more popular than the household Oscilloscope.

To the public!

In 1967 Ralph Baer invented the game 'Chase'. Chase was the first game designed for a television set, this meant people could play it, because even the middle class owned televisions! The industry became interesting, people started reading, hearing, and learning about new computer games. Scientists, devoid of any care for physical appearance smiled on the front of magazines with their new toys. People got interested.

Then came 'Pong', notice how most people think 'Pong' was the first ever game? Thats because most people are stupid and shouldn't be humored when they open their mouthes.

Pong was the first hugely popular commercial game. People wasted quarter after quarter down the arcade, playing this piece of modern history. After its huge success in arcades, the creators,
Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn, started Atari Computers, and developed 'Pong' as a household Game.

By this point, and after over 20 early years of computer games' existence, everyone knew what a game was. They even existed in peoples living rooms, by the television.

From this point on, history mainly repeated itself, a developer would make a game, sometimes with a friend, and it would be released either at the arcade, the home, or both. I shan't write about it because frankly it is boring.

However, there is still an interesting future to come, and I shall write about it in a later blog, the great depression etc.

But now, back to my question, why is it, parents don't like computer games? Surely their families would have been a part of the hype, their parents may well have purchased 'Pong'.

I am almost certain that it is down to one of three reasons:

Social Stigma
Cost too much
The depression coinciding with their childhood

The Social Stigma maybe? It is well known that when computer games were first made they weren't liked by everyone. A lot of people saw them as a waste of time and productivity, and almost everyone doubted that they would catch on (ha, what a mistake you old farts).

Cost too much? A lot of people weren't well off and new technology costs a lot of money, maybe the parents, thinking the games wouldn't last, or catch on, decided to keep their coppers and send their children to work in the mine?

We all know that feeling, say for example, when I was young I used to play with my Thunderbirds, I had them all, metal and proper. They would come and save my lego men from the terror of my cat, Launching out of their polystyrene base, why polystyrene you ask? Because my parents were too stingy to buy me the Tracy Island base I saw on television and begged for every Christmas. Funny. I wont be springing for the silver package when I stuff those two in the old retirement home, revenge is a fucker isn't it?

Back to the question... Maybe the depression? We will find out soon...

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

My First Blog

Well, it seems the opportunity to blog has been arguably shoved in my face and I am yet to decide whether to take advantage of this possible 'gem' or to immaturely refuse to take interest. I think common sense would suggest that the former is more in my favor but I do like being rebellious and besides, I never have been one for writing unread messages. Often finding that considering and reviewing problems, rather than whining about them on an internet blog read by people with little value or life experience, is a more effective way of dealing with them.

So, this blog will not be about my every emotion, and 'black holes of sadness' (whoever invented emo's really had a sense of humor) Instead I will write about things I find interesting, inspiring, and I shall show off my works in progress (providing I remember to update, something I'm not great at doing).

I am even planning a large series of posts on the history of games! Because this really inspires me to work hard and makes my instincts tingle with delight! (box of chocolates for the first person to spot the thinly veiled sarcasm).

So read on, let the blog grow!

And you know what, I am even starting to warm to this...