October 22, 2006

game evolution
  • The other day I saw my cousin playing a football game on his Atari Playbox. I haven't owned a games console in about ten years, and it looked about as much fun as pressing the red button on your digibox during Match of the Day. It also made me feel very old. I remember when my spectrum *actually speaking* "Tresshure Isshland Disshy" upon loading "Treasure Island Dizzy" made me speak in tongues, it was so bloody miraculous. Anyway, I've taken screenshots of the same game genres on the ZX 81, an 8-bit, 16-bit and a 32-bit or above computer, and put them side to side just so that you can see how these games have evolved over the years, and moreover to mock the ZX81's limitations. It may not be interesting, but I have done it now and here it is.
  • I love how something like Pacman or Breakout is still the same (ignoring whatever that final monstrosity was) whereas in other genres the technology improvements really have vastly improved the gameplay, not just the graphics.
  • I avoided the ZX81 like crazy when it came out - if you've ever seen one you'd understand. It was never a real game machine. But it's interesting to see that 8-bit and 16-bit games are similar - just more detail and colour - but the 32-bit goes all 3D and the original playability of the game is gone. Doom was always 3D pacman (run around a maze collecting power-ups and killing demons) and Duke Nukem 3D was adapted from a side-scroller. Did 3D Pong ever make it???
  • Funky. Thanks, dng. How I used to love Yie-Ar Kung Fu.
  • It's true about the 3D versions of games often losing the original playability and charm. I've played many games on my nephews console which are basically some character running around in a 3D world collecting things, jumping on ledges and avoiding baddies. Platform games were the easy-to-write option for film tie-in developers on 8bit consoles*, now it seems the 3D platformer has replaced that. *You can see this theory in action on Something Awful's Rom Pit reviews of bad Nintendo games. And the ZX81 was great for games! Have you never heard of Mince Pounce?
  • *ahem* . . mi mi mi mi miiiiiiiiii . . *ahem* MonkeyFilter: It may not be interesting, but I have done it now and here it is. *deep bow* Er, which is to say that yes. The 2D 3-bit one button games ruled in part because there was nothing else, and when your character is a ripped, windblown airbrushed hero on the box cover and a primary colored square on TV there's more imagination allowed in gameplay. Plus it was more fun too.
  • Duke Nukem MP came out after DN3D. It's a side scroller, but with 3d graphics with good sound and plenty of explosions. The zelda game for the GBA (minish cap) is excellent. These are 2d games that shine (IMHO) in a field of 3d games, but they're the only decent examples I can think of. I wish I had more of these, but it seems like these days since games can be 3d, they must all be 3d.
  • Yes, going to DDD from DD sometimes ruins the play, but once you've been pleasured by a magnificent set of triple Ds you really start to see the truth in the adage that dimensions do matter.
  • He shows cut scenes or movies as examples of the fourth generation for quite a few of the genres, which is not that useful for comparative purposes.
  • ...dimensions do matter. Hence the popularity of Lara Croft.
  • I spent way too much time in my youth yanking a blob of a dozen or so pixels around a TV screen, imagining it was a river-banking plane, a racecar, an adventurer leaping over crocodiles. Looking at the games my nephews play today, I'm glad not to be a kid today, or I'd have already lost myself in those 3D universes.
  • "Doom was always 3D pacman (run around a maze collecting power-ups and killing demons) and Duke Nukem 3D was adapted from a side-scroller." Not quite accurate, historically. Wolfenstein 3D was, I believe, the original first person shooter to develop an engine that was scalable. Doom followed on its heels, and was a quantum leap, as angles other than 90 degrees became possible. And then the FPS world exploded, with more Doom, Duke Nukem, Quake, Realm of the Something-or-another, that weird, sort of scary mystical one whose name also escapes me, the amusing if politically incorrect Redneck Rampage, and so forth. They are all now about ten to twelve years old, but still rank as likely the most addictive genre ever created, especially when "deathmatch", or online group play was introduced, which was almost immediate. An important sidebar was that most all of these games included engines in which the user could create his/her own "maps", or game arenas, thus taking on the role of game developer as well as game player. These maps were and are shared on the internet, and many homebrew maps equalled or bettered the efforts of the professional game developers. Their prevalence also implied a near endless lifespan to a game: one never ran out of new adventures, there was always another to be downloaded from one of a gazillion web sites. Many of my life's hours were (and, I admit, are) spent chasing and blasting these demons. I find it to be remarkable entertainment.
  • ^re: mario evolution... interesting, of course, but why all the drop shadows? :/