TC 391

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Violence and Games Blog #10

In the early history of games they were not seen as overly violent or controversial.. The first game to cause a social outcry was Death Race. The game was a simple arcade game where you played as a racer and your goal was to run over people and they would turn into a cross. The game ended up getting banned. After death race no games really caused that much of a problem until the release of Caste Wolfenstein and later Wolf 3d. Both games were banned in Germany but not really as a result of the level of violence but because they showed Nazi soldiers. Later came Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat is the game that caused the biggest concern, mainly because of the fatalities in the game. When the game first came out in the arcade there wasn't a problem. It was when the game was released for the Sega Genesis. I remember seeing it on the news a girl saw here brother playing Mortal Kombat and she complained to her parents about it. They talked about Sub Zeroes finisher were he tears the spine out of his enemy. Up until this point there was not a rating system in place for videogames. The ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) is what was formed. I'm sure everyone that has bought a game has seen the little ESRB rating on it. As time has gone on games have been getting more realistic and more violent. I think the ESRB ratings for games is a good thing. It helps parents decide what games they think there child should be able to play. As far as games getting more violent over time, I don't think it's necessarily a good thing for the business. It's alright to have a little bit of violence but it shouldn't be the main selling point of the game. I think designers should rely more on good game play and story to push a game.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Online Gaming Blog #9

Online gaming has been around since the first days of Muds. Later graphics were added and they became known as moos. The first online game Mud was very popular. Time-sharing had to be setup at the University that was hosting the game because students were failing classes because of prolonged playing of the game. Even from the beginning online gaming was very popular. The first online games were set in a fantasy world and there were players and non-playable characters (NPCs) to interact with. One of the first more modern and really popular online games is Ultima Online. Ultima Online is so popular that it’s still around. Today most new PC games have a multiplayer mode and some games are purely online multiplayer games. Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPG) are strictly online games. The biggest one by far is Everquest. The game is so popular that people sell items not only in the game but also over the Internet on eBay. Online gaming is very big right now. New MMORPGs keep coming out and people keep on playing them. I think the reason they are so popular is because of the sense of community you have while playing the game. Being able to play a game where almost everyone is an actual person is a lot of fun. There are also single player games that you can play online. These are usually little games but some are full-fledged games. I recently started playing a game called Adventure Quest. It’s a single player online RPG. I think online gaming is here to stay. Console systems have been starting to get into online gaming as well. Right now most new PS2 and Xbox games have some sort of online play or extra content you can get by going online. People are still playing Muds too. So if you want to see how it all got started do a search for Mud and try one out.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Licensing and Games Blog #8

I recently heard a speech about Licensing and Games from Richard “Levelord” Gray and Christopher Stockman which got me thinking about licensing and games and whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing for the games business. Games based on licenses have been around for quite a while. A couple of the first games based on a movie license were Raiders of the Lost Ark and E.T. for the Atari 2600. Raiders of the Lost Ark did pretty well but E.T. was an utter flop. Movies are not the only thing games are licenses from. There are games based on TV shows, comic books, and card games among other forms of media. From a developers standpoint there are some advantages and disadvantages to creating games based on a license. Game developers can only add things to the game that the content holders approve. This limits a game developers creativity they can have with game. Also game developers are often rushed to get the game done in time to coincide with the release of the movie or another item dealing with the license. This often leads to buggy games that otherwise would have been find if the developers were given ample time to complete the game. There are some definite advantages to licensing a game. The developers have an already established franchise with characters and a story. This leaves more time for the developers to work on other aspects of the game like game play. Also depending on the popularity of the license a game may sell solely on it. A downside to this is if the game is based on an obscure or a new franchise it may not get noticed very well. Also if the new franchise fails then the game may also be doomed as well.

Licensed games, primarily those based on movies have been given a bad reputation. This is due to the fact that until recently most movie based games have been very bad with a few exceptions here and there. In general I would say that games based on movie licenses are getting better. Some good examples are the superb GoldenEye, Spider-Man 2 and the new Lord of The Rings games. Also games based on comic books haven’t generally been very good. I also believe this has been changing recently with the exception of the Aqua Man game. Some new good games based on comic books are Xmen Legends, Spider-Man 2, and City of Heroes. Overall I would say games based on licenses are getting better and I hope the trend continues.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Nintendo past,present, and future Blog #7

Nintendo has been around as a company since 1889. They started out selling playing cards. They didn't get into the videogame business until around the 1970's. Since then they have released their very popular Game & Watch games, Game Boy, and a number of consoles. Nintendo used to be the gaming giant, especially during the NES and SNES days. They are still the big dogs in mobile gaming. Sony has loosened up their grasp on home console market. Nintendo may not be the biggest name in gaming anymore. However they have by far the most recognizable franchises. Who hasn’t heard of Mario, Zelda or Metroid? They are about to be challenged by Sony once again but this time on the mobile gaming arena. Nintendo has faced off some stiff competition in the handheld market in order to gain market dominance. From looking at the strong 3rd party support for the Sony PSP I think Nintendo is going to have some serious competition for the mobile gaming crown. Also from what I have seen of the PSP and Nintendo DS at the e3 tradeshow I would say Nintendo should be a little uneasy about the release of the PSP. As far as the console gaming market goes, Nintendo is doing a little better than the Xbox worldwide but is no wares close to the having the market dominance that Sony has. Microsoft is beating the GameCube in sales in the U.S. market. Nintendo is still staying in the console race. They will be coming out with a new console to compete with the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 2. The code name for their next console is Revolution. Little is currently known about their next console besides the fact that Nintendo plans to release it around the same time as the PS3. I think it'll be very interesting to see how Nintendo fares in both the home console and handheld markets.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Japanese games brought to America Blog #6

There is a long history in Japanese video games being brought over to the U.S. Some of the first games brought over were the hugely popular Space Invaders and Puck-Man. PuckMan was released in the U.S. as Pac-Man. Many other titles have been brought over. Usually if a title becomes very popular in Japan it will be brought to the U.S. More recent examples of this are; Dance Dance Revolution, the Final Fantasy series, Karaoke Revolution, and the Onimusha series. Some games translate well while others don't. One reason for this is sometimes when the text from a game is translated to English it isn't translated very well. Also when voice acting is involved in the game, bad English actors are usually used for the U.S. version. Some examples of bad voice-overs are Onimusha, and Shenmue. Onimusha 3 on the other hand has very good English voice-overs. Also some game genres are geared more towards Japanese culture. Dating Sims for example are very popular in Japan but have yet to catch on in the U.S. Music games on the other hand are very popular in Japan and are starting to become very popular in the U.S. DDR is a very good example of a music game that is hugely popular here and in Japan. Two genres in paritcular have generally been made in Japan and well accepted in the U.S. are RPGs and fighting games. Some good RPG ports are the Final Fantasy series, Dragon Quest series, Chrono Chross, and Xenosaga. Some good fighting game ports are the Tekken Series, Soul Calibur series, and Virtual Fighter series. Japanese games have been brought over to the U.S. for some time now. I think this is a trend that is hear to stay, especially considering that both Sony and Nintendo are based in Japan. I enjoy playing Japanese games so I say keep the games coming.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The Trend Towards better Graphics - Blog #5

In class on Tuesday we started talking about the introduction of graphics to PC games. In the first games the graphics were rather rudimentary but they severed the purpose of adding a layer of interactivity to the game. As time progressed the graphics in games were improved and in some purposes were designed to push the limits of a particular computer, for example Kings Quest, which we discussed in class was designed to push the limits of IBM’s PCjr computer. Some games in particular that really upped the ante for computer game graphics are Myst, Doom, and Quake in the past and of recent Morrowind, Far Cry, Painkiller and Doom III. In general the most graphically intensive games have tended to be First Person Shooters. I think the reason for this is because Doom and Quake set the standard for having good graphics for FPS games and if everyone else doesn’t follow suite they’ll be left in the dust. I don’t think having great graphics is what truly defines a game but it is one of the first things gamers notice upon playing a game. The trend towards better graphics for games is still going. If you’ve played Doom III you can definitely attest to this. I think eventually the graphics quality will get so high that the increases that are made will seem moot. At this point I think development cost for games will be put more towards other aspects of game design, primarily artificial intelligence and narrative.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

An Industry built on the Inspiration of others Blog #4

Today in class we learned about the beginnings of the PC game industry. We learned how the first games inspired people later on to develop games. I believe this is a trend that has stayed with the PC games industry and the games industry in general. Almost all games released today show similarities to the first games of their kind and of recent games. Doom and Wolfenstein 3d inspired other game developers to produce first person shooters. The example given in class today was how the games Adventure and Zork inspired game people to create more text adventures, and eventually MUDs. Another good example is the game Command and Conquer, which was one of the first RTS games and most importantly a very popular game of its time. The series is still strong today. Almost all RTS games today have the same basic game play principles that were in the original Command and Conquer such as the micromanagement of resources and of soldiers. The games that are released today are all inspired in some way by the games that came out prior to them. This inspiration is what fueled the games industry and I hope it keeps the engine burning for many years to come.