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The Evolution of Video Game Programming

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  1. The Evolution of Video Game Programming By: Jerad Waas

  2. An Overview • Video Game History • Programming Disciplines • The Game Development Process • The Present and the Future of Gaming

  3. Video Game History • The Origins • The 1960s • The 1970s • The 1980s • The 1990s • The 2000s

  4. History - The Origins • Disputed origins • 1950s, 1960s, 1970s • William Higinbotham • 1958 • Entertain guests at Brookhaven Ntl Lab • Oscilloscope & Simple Computer • Tennis For Two

  5. History - The 1960s • Tech Model Railroad Club - MIT • Developed Spacewar! • On a PDP-1 • 9KB • Firsts for industry: • Game to be shared over a network • Widely available • $120,000

  6. History - The 1960s - PDP-1 Paper tape PDP-1 replica

  7. History - The 1960s • Ralph Baer • Developed a couple of games: • Tag • Volleyball • Ping Pong • Together with Bill Harrison • Created the Light Gun

  8. History - The 1960s - Light Gun • How does it work? • Photodiode • Senses light on screen • Screen blacks out • Diode begins reception • Portion of the screen is painted white - typically the target you are aiming for • If diode senses black then white - hit!

  9. History - The 1970s • 1972 - The first wave of Magnavox Odysseys were sold • ~ $100 • Quickly sold 100,000 • Sales quickly diminished after

  10. History - The 1970s • Nolan Bushnell & Ted Dabney • Turn Spacewar! Into a coin-op arcade machine • 1971 - They found a manufacturer in • Nutting Associates • Coin-op manufacturer • 1,500 machines • To complex!

  11. History - The 1970s • Bushnell & Dabney • Leave Nutting • Start up a new company • Atari • Simple tennis game • Pong • ~ $1,200 • 1972 - First units on sale • ~ 8,500 units in first year • ~ 19,000 total

  12. History - The 1970s • Atari reluctantly decides to test the home market • Magnavox Odyssey • Atari sells the idea to Sears • $100 version of Pong • Sears’ biggest selling item • Home version of Pong • Atari “on the map” • Household name

  13. History - The 1970s • 1972 • Steve Jobs joins Atari • Technician • Exposes Steve Wozniak to Atari and Pong • They later form Apple in 1976

  14. History - The 1970s • 1975 • Midway • Gun Fight • Two firsts in the industry: • First video game to utilize a microprocessor • Intel 8080 • Random events • First video game to be imported from Japan

  15. History - The 1970s • 1976 • Apple founded • Steve Wozniak • Created Breakout • Two firsts for the industry: • Software was used to run a video game • Breakout was programmed in a computer language • Previously, machine code

  16. History - The 1970s • Namco • 1974 • Bought the Japanese division of Atari • 1979 • Developed the first color video game • Galaxian • Instant success

  17. History - The 1980s • Pac-Man • Shows the industry two things: • Innovation is important • Merchandising! • Cereals • TV-Shows • T-Shirts…etc

  18. History - 1980s • 1985 • Nintendo Entertainment System • Bundled with Super Mario Brothers • Dominated the North American market • D-pad now became standard

  19. History - The 1990s • Shareware becomes popular because of: • Doom • Wolfenstein 3D • Demo • First portion of the game • Good way to show off their game • Many companies mimicked id Software

  20. History - The 1990s • 1996 • 3dfx releases the Voodoo chipset • Quake was among the first to utilize standalone graphics cards • Devoted 3D rendering cards • Allowed CPU to handle other computations

  21. History - The 1990s • 3D era • 32 bit era brings 2 major consoles to consumers • Sega Saturn • Sony Playstation • After many delays… • Nintendo 64 • 64 bit system • Revolutionary system

  22. History - The 1990s • Nintendo 64 • 1.5 million units sold in three months • Many critically acclaimed games • Super Mario 64 • Goldeneye 007 • The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time

  23. History - The 2000s • Current Generation • Microsoft • XBOX • Nintendo • Gamecube • Sony • Playstation 2 • DVD capability • PS2 & XBOX • Backwards compatibility • PS2

  24. Disciplines • Game Physics Programmer • AI Programmer • Graphics Programmer • Sound Programmer • UI Programmer • Input Programmer • Network Programmer • Game Tools Programmer • Porting Programmer • Lead Game Programmer

  25. Disciplines - Physics • Developing the physics in the game • Processor cycles are at a premium • Efficiency is key • FPS games typically demand large teams of physics programmers

  26. Disciplines - AI • Develops the logic that the game uses • Has developed into a specialized area as of late • Pathfinding, strategy, and enemy tactics • According to Game Developer Magazine - 60% of time • Real time strategy and first person shooters

  27. Disciplines - Graphics • Programmers who specialize in developing and modifying complex 3D graphics • 2D graphics abilities are still useful though • Cell Phones • PDAs • Scarce in industry • Demand high salaries

  28. Disciplines - Sound • Full musical scores - been around • 3D positional sound - recent • First person shooters • Programmers try to include the newest technologies • Games with large soundtracks or advanced audio, demand teams of sound programmers

  29. Disciplines - User Interface • Very important! • Must be intuitive, useful-feature, clean, and easy to use • Most user interfaces are 2D • Some interfaces are developed with the same 3D technology as the rest of the game • Advanced interfaces allow custom scripting

  30. Disciplines - User Interface • LUA • XML • World of Warcraft • n!

  31. Disciplines - Input • Writes code that determines how the player will use the input devices • Controller • Joystick • Keyboard & Mouse • Wii controller • Motion sensing technology

  32. Disciplines - Input • Programmers must recognize and adhere to controller standards • WASD • A (X) - accept // next • B (triangle) - back // cancel • If standards are not followed, gamers will be confused

  33. Disciplines - Network • Writes the code that allows players to play the game on a LAN and or on the internet • Very important in Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) • Latency control is especially important • Programmers cannot assume all consumers have broadband • Must be efficient • Might be dial-up gamers

  34. Disciplines - Game Tools • Write code to handle tasks like scripting, converting art, batches, modifying the game and levels • Half-Life 2 • Source SDK • Create levels (Hammer) • Facial animations

  35. Disciplines - Porting • Porting is very important, especially for companies like EA • Games available on almost every platform • May involve the tools programmer to help convert content • Some code may have to be re-written to utilize different hardware

  36. Disciplines - Lead • Keeps the programmers focused, and on track • Quite often a middle man between the client and programmers • Should have a general base knowledge of all aspects of the game • Sound • Graphics • Networking • Etc.

  37. The Game Development Process • Prototyping • Game Design • Language • API & Libraries • Production • Crunch Time • Maintenance

  38. Process - Prototyping • Very similar to normal applications • Test ideas and algorithms • Give the customer and early glimpse • Early screenshots • Good way to gain early popularity

  39. Process - Language • What language to use? • Many dependencies • Staff • Platform • Language of the game engine • Most popular • C++

  40. Process - API & Libraries • Which API & Libraries to use? • Tons of libraries out there • Sound processing • Input • Graphics rendering • Pathfinding • Also depends on target platform • Libraries for PS2 may not be available for XBOX360 • Graphics API? • DirectX • OpenGL

  41. Process - API & Libraries • A collection of APIs • Direct3D • The 3D graphics API • Not portable • Designed specifically for Microsoft products • Pocket PC • XBOX • Windows • Revised more frequently then OpenGL • Utilizes the latest features of 3D graphics cards

  42. Process - API & Libraries • Portable 3D API • Easily ported to and from • Windows <-> MacOS <-> Linux • Revised infrequently

  43. Process - Production • Bulk of the time • Code…code…code • Design documents are constantly changing • Lead regularly reports status to supervisor • Develop game tools

  44. Process - Crunch Time • Towards the end of the production phase • Productivity is not proportional to extra hours • 2x hours != 2x productivity • Adding extra staff may not increase productivity • Quality decreases as time increases

  45. Process - Maintenance • Console • Pre-current generation - next to impossible • Hard drives and online- now possible • Patches and new content • PC • Numerous hardware / software combinations • Patches are inevitable • MMO Genre • Extensive maintenance phase • New content is always required

  46. The Present and the Future of Gaming • Multithreaded Gaming • HD Gaming • Next Generation

  47. Present & Future - Threading • Split up processes • Games w/ multiple threads • Run more efficiently on HT or multicore processesors • XBOX 360 and PS3 • Multiple processors

  48. Present & Future - HD • Popularity of HDTV • Red - Green - Blue • Instead of Yellow • HD offers: • Improved textures • Improved character models • Higher pixel count

  49. Present & Future - “Next Gen” • Microsoft • XBOX 360 • HD-DVD • Nintendo • Wii • November • Motion sensing technology • Sony • Playstation 3 • November • Blu-ray

  50. References • Computer and Video Games • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_and_video_games • Game Programming • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_programming • History of Computer and Video Games • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_computer_and_video_games • Game Programmer • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_programmer • History of Video Game Programming • http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1185238 • How does the light gun for a video game work? • http://www.howstuffworks.com/question273.htm • History of the video game industry • http://www.pong-story.com/intro.htm