Monday, 7 November 2011

My Super Awesome Gaming History

Going back a while ago, mid 90's I think. My brother got a brand new shiny Amiga for Christmas (don’t ask which model as I really cant remember!). Watching him playing it for a few days I start to get more interested in it, as his excitement grew for it, so did mine. So a week later I decided I wanted to jump on and try it for myself. My first gaming experience started.

I spent countless hours playing games which I still vividly remember even today. Canon Fodder was a personal favourite of mine, I remember having a real connection with that game. As all your squad had names and improved as you advanced through the levels. So when you've lost one of them you’ve lost someone who you’ve seen improve and promoted throughout their digital life. To top it off he'd be replaced with some basic recruit who you knew wouldn’t survive the next level, sending you into a deep spiral. But fun never the less. Other notable mentions from this age are: Wings, Chaos Engine, Flashback.

Then going into the late 90's I started to experience the original Playstation which we got hold of on launch day. This is a time when I really fell in love with gaming. Always playing my PS1 instead of doing my homework, and then always being told “stop wasting your time playing games, that wont get you a job in the future”, well mum and dad, look at me now. I plunged many hours into Gran Turismo and its squeal with my brother trying to buy/unlock all the cars in the game. A sad day came when I (some how) stupidly wiped all the data of the memory was not happy. Of course with every other PS1 gamer on the planet I played Final Fantasy (7-9) and Metal Gear Solid to death.

1999 was a great year for me. For one it was my first trip to Disney Land Florida, its also where I picked up my first PC game. Unreal. This was my first experience of PC gaming. Before this, the PC was a evil place where I had to do home work, now its a place where I got to chill out and play games. Ever since Unreal I fell in love with PC gaming, the controls, the graphics, the sound, the games. Everything to me just seemed better on the PC, and it still does.

Years go by and we picked up the PS2 (on launch day, again). If I wasn’t playing on the PC, i'd be on the PS2, then if I had time...homework. With the launch of both GT3 and GT4 me and my brother would team up again to and play the game together. This is also the era where I discovered my passion for GTA. Too many hours I spent messing around with those game.

Years pass and Im still playing my PC games, on a PC I built myself. Bought a PS3 on release day (yet again) which I touch now and again, the PC takes up most of my gaming time.

Now what do I think the future will hold? Well seeing how we are slowing moving away from controllers in the hand and more towards a more interactive way (Kinect, Move, Wii). I can see in 5/10 years time we're going to be playing games in complete virtual reality, ala Matrix. With maybe levels and characters based entirely from our memory, making for a more personal experience. And that might put us artist into a tricky position job wise if everything is going to be created from your brain.

Stay Classy...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A Brief History Of Time.....For Games : Part 3

Now we are reaching a decade which is very familiar to my generation, the 2000s (naughties). Just like the 1990s we see a massive change in technology and innovation. We also see discover how costly game development has become,with some development budgets rivalling film development.

The naughties started with a bang. The follow up console of the original Playstation is launched, the Playstation 2 (released in March 2000). Which has become the best selling console of all time, racking in an impressive 150 million units sold world wide as of January 2011. A year later (November 2001 to be precise) came the PS2s main competitor, the Microsoft Xbox . This was Microsoft first try with a home console, and it did well, very well. Its launch success can mainly be put down to the impressive launch titles, mainly Halo : Combat Evolved which has now developed into a monumental earner for Microsoft. Nintendo also launched their console, the Gamecube, But it couldnt touch the success of the PS2 or Xbox.

This decade also saw the battle of the handhelds, with the release of the Nintendo Game boy Advance (released 2001), then being redesigned into the GBA SP 2 years later. Then as a little as a year little Nintendo release the DS, a very innovative bit of kit with its touch and dual screens, With Nintendo trying to milk as much money from this as possible they released a smaller (DS Lite) and later a bigger version (XL). Sony decide to jump on the band wagon and tried to compete with its Playstation Portable, although a success it couldnt touch Nintendos market share with the DS.

In the mid 2000s we saw another battle with the “Next Generation” range of consoles. Microsoft release the Xbox 360, Nintendo with the Wii and Sony with the Playstation 3. The Wii was an unpredictable hit, being sold out for 18 months straight. Nintendo got this success by targeting casual gamers with its innovative “Wiimote”, and it worked well. Very well.

Some amazing games were released in the naughties, some which I and many other gamers have played to death. We have Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, proving that games can also be interactive films with a total cut scene length of over 5 hours. Impressive. Other genre defining games from this decades are : Call of Duty 4; World Of Warcraft; GTA: San Andreas; Guitar Hero and Half Life 2.

One of the biggest concerns of game development is the costs. The average game in the year 2000 would cost around $1 million to develop, jump forward to 2005 and the biggest AAA titles can cost as much as $70 million. This can be due to the expectations of the average gamer who is looking for an immersive game with sparkly graphics and sound to go along with their new HDTV and Surround sound. This means the developer has to now hire more and more artist/programmers/sounds engineers and all the other people inbetween so they can hit the high expectation of the consumer.

Costs of game development are only going to increase as technology and expectations increase. Dark times could lay ahead.

Stay Classy...