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  1. History and futuresofcomputer gaming CS 370 -- Computer Game Design Ken Forbus Spring, 2003

  2. Some advice for the party • Do setup early • Always have someone at your game • Make sure that both Rob and I see it • Have fun!

  3. Question: How will computer gaming evolve? • To see forward, start by looking backward • What constraints are shaping the system? • Overview • Brief history of computer gaming • Forces on the industry • Some questions designers are struggling with

  4. Prehistory: The Arcade • 1930: Electromechanical pinball machines created, improving earlier purely mechanical models. US-manufactured machines spread through the world • Late 1940s: Pachinko developed in Japan • 1954: Sega founded by US G.I. (= Service Games Company) to import coin-operated games Photo Source: http://www.sandsmuseum.com/coinop/games/chicago/chicago.html

  5. 1960’s -- early 1970’s:The first computer games • Ran on mainframe computers • Generate music • amplifier hooked to register bit • AM radio near right part of the machine • SpaceWar developed on MIT PDP-1 • Main use of AI Lab’s PDP-6 on nights and weekends • ASCII-based Star Trek games • Can find their descendents today in BASIC bargain bins • 1975: William Crowther developed Adventure, first text-based adventure game (KA-10)

  6. 1970’s: First commercial attempts • 1972: Syzygy formed by Nolan Bushnell • 1973: Computer Space (based on Space War) • first commercial electronic arcade game. • Too hard, failed. • 1974: Pong. Huge hit in bars, pinball arcades • Example of early multiplayer game (optional) • Tank Command, Battlezone, … • Renamed company as “Atari” Photo sources: http://www.klov.com/C/Computer_Space.html http://www.gamearchive.com/video/manufacturer/atari/vector/html/battlezone.html

  7. Late 1970’s:The first Home Invasion • 1977: Atari introduces first home game console • 2600 VCS • 2KB ROM, 128 bytes RAM • 1977: Apple II arrives on the market • 1979: Third-party development houses (e.g., Activision) start up Photo source: http://www.atariage.com/

  8. Early 1980’s: The Boom • 1980 • Phillips Odyssey and Mattel Intellivision reach the market. • Nintendo’s Donkey Kong arrives in arcades • Namco’s Pac-Man does $2.3B business (1997 dollars) • Atari reaches $1B • 1981 • Game Industry exceeds $6B in sales • IBM introduces the IBM PC Photo sources:http://www.pong-story.com/ody2001.htmhttp://www.intellivisionlives.com/

  9. 1981-1982: The Crash • Atari sales down 50%, loses money • Market flooded with poor quality games • Buys license for E.T. for $22M • Game companies targeting home computers form • Electronic Arts, Sierra On-Line, Broderbund • Mattel loses $225M from Intellivision • Wipes out profits from previous four years • 1984: • Industry drops to below $800M • Apple introduces the Macintosh

  10. Late 1980s: Struggling back to life • 1985: • Nintendo introduces NES to US • Strict software control, restricts companies to producing 5 games/year • Atari tries for comeback with 16-bit ST • Commodore ships Amiga, designed to support games • Bad marketing kills it, although it lives on as an orphan • 1986:Sega ships Sega Master Console system • Fails due to lack of developer buy-in • 1987: • Electronic Arts releases its first in-house game • More games show up for IBM PC

  11. Early 1990s: Resurgence • 1989 • Sega Genesis released, fueled by EA sports titles • Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers 3 sells 11M copies • 1990: Amiga, Atari ST die • 1991: Nintendo launches Super-NES (16 bit) • 1992: • PC gaming explodes • Nintendo sales reach $7B ($4.7B in US); higher profits than all US movie and TV studios combined

  12. Turn of the century • Nintendo N64 • Home SGI machine • PlayStation 2 • “Emotion engine” • Dreamcast born and dies • It’s the games, dummy • Microsoft Xbox struggles • Will directX rule? • Renaissance in PC Gaming • Many titles, large sales, creative use of peripherals • Apple improves its support for games

  13. The serpent in the garden: Economics • Why aren’t games as big a form of entertainment as • Movies? • Television? • Sports? • Horse racing?

  14. Example: Blade Runner (1998) • No film reused from movie; all done via animation • 230GB of graphical assets, uncompressed • 2,600 motion capture sequences • Rendering farm = 90 dual 233mhz PII’s, 256MB RAM • Development environment = 3D studio MAX, with 150 plugins

  15. Economics of Adventure games 1998 Sales (US only) • Riven: $62.5M • Myst: $61.5M • Phantasmagoria: $12.5M • Gabriel Knight 2: $8.4M • The Dig: $6.1M • Blade Runner: $5.6M • Pandora Directive: $3.7M • Zork Grand Inquisitor: $1.9M • Last Express: $1.9M • Development costs: • Myst: $300K • Blade Runner: $4M • The Last Express: $6M • Typical graphical adventure: between $1-4M

  16. Major problem: Marketing • Megahit mentality • Hard-core gamers • Male, 16-34 • Computer savvy, enough disposable income to buy latest hardware, software • Most developers cater to this market • This group is at most 20% of the US population • Problem: How to expand the base of players? • Women • Younger people • Older people

  17. The tricky economics of online games • Example: Meridian 59 • 10,000 players/month • Revenues covers ongoing production & maintenance costs only • No profit, no payback for development costs • One analysis • Source: Paul Palumbo, “Online vs. Retail Game Title Economics”, Gamasutra January 9, 1998 Vol. 2: Issue 2 • Assume: Development costs $1.2M; Flat rate of $7.95/month; gross margin of 60% desired; 20% churn/month • Need 20,000 monthly subscribers, 68,000 new subscribers/year

  18. Online gaming = Service industry • Source: Jessica Mulligan, “Online Gaming: Why won’t they come” Gamasutra Vol 2: Issue 9, Feb 27, 1998 • Potential market huge: 2.5M hardcore gamers with net work access, but most games have about 10K • Claim: Successful games focus on customer service • 90% of the work occurs after the game is deployed. • Having sysops who resolve disputes and fix bugs on the spot essential to success

  19. Model perturbations yield possible trends • Implementation possibilities expanding • Moore’s Law continues, at least for a while • Richer models now possible • Which expands opportunities for immersion • New kinds of stories can be told • New generativity in imagined worlds • Multiparticipant stories

  20. Some questions game designersare grappling with

  21. How might stories evolve?

  22. Will lifelike animation kill full-motion video?

  23. Will inverse kinematics kill motion capture?

  24. Is 2D versus 3D like B&W/Color or likeanimation/live action?

  25. How to exploit new modalities? • Speech I/O becoming reasonable • More developers are shipping text to speech, limited recognition capabilities • Vision input around the corner? • Potential applications? • Helmets, and gloves and sensors?

  26. What can we do to improve game AI? • “AI code gets big -- 1000, 2000 lines” (speaker at 1998 GDC) • “Games are going to become AI-bound” • Brian Schmidt, Xbox project manager

  27. What game(s) would you like to see?