Jump to content
  • Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

RTF

How worthwhile is studying video game history?

This topic is 5735 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

(Edit: It figures that I don't notice the ? in the title turning into an >) In your opinion, of course, if we consider "study" to mean not only simply reading the relatively small number of written histories, but also digging through old magazines, boxes, and manuals, and the other assorted paraphenilia, playing older games both in their original incarnations and through emulation, and drawing on accounts and interviews that are from particular periods, or look back on them. I know I've done a lot of all of these, consciously or not, and I think it's been well worth it. It's only with a lot of time spent on emulators, playing games I've never seen before that I've made some of the connections I did. For example, I never knew the Atari 2600 very well, having grown up only using the 8-bit computers and Nintendo(and then of course later the PC). But playing a lot of games for it through emulation showed me an entirely different kind of gaming. The standardized feel of most of the games, starting immediately into the game from a frozen frame with a full life counter and a score of "0" as soon as you press the button or move the stick and ending with the frame frozen again to show your score, was a completely different world from that of the computer games. Type-in BASIC games from magazines, especially, had a style all their own. They relied little on the sprite hardware of the computer(since that took heavy use of assembly) and instead focused mostly on the text-mode capabilities of the Atari, which had three choices: it could display the text at normal size(which allowed one-pixel-wide segments to artifact between two different colors), double width, or 4x scale. Further, the character set(which were an version of ASCII, ATASCII) could be edited with just a few lines of assembly code cut and paste from a book, further aided by character-editing programs. So a lot of these games were based around fixed tiles and innovated widely within that realm, between strategy games and platformers and shoot-em-ups. Then there are cases, especially with early games for a console, where you can see styles bleed over between platforms as programmers adjust to their new environment using old methods. It's little things like these that I find fascinating; they give me something to keep in mind with my own designs. [edited by - RTF on March 31, 2003 3:18:49 AM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
I don''t know how worthwhile studying video game history is for someone who started with a ps or ps2. Unless you mean looking at the evolution of gaming without actually playing the games throughout the time period. However, I would say my time spent on the Atari 2600, Commodore 64/128, NES, Sega Master System, SNES, Genesis, Gameboy, Atari Lynx, Saturn, Atari Jaguar, 3DO, N64, Playstation, and all the newer consoles plus arcades throughout said consoles "prime" and PC games has definitely been a plus when it comes to gettin inspiration and ideas for games. Not to mention the variety of styles and feels that came with all of them. Emulators are great for bringing back memories and do a pretty good job on truely emulating the game but the feel on the actual system plus the fact that it was the latest thing at the time is something completely different imho.

You should know your roots.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just being aware of the origins (in context) of the "standard solutions" - the features and concepts that most gamers take for granted - is useful. If you know where an idea like, eg, percentage hitpoints in FPS games comes from and what sort of alternatives the technology of the time could support, you can judge more easily which standards exist because they are genuinely near optimum, and which exist because the technology prevented anything better being done. Knowing this, you''ve got a better idea where improvements are more likely to be possible.

For example, the FF battle system goes way back to a time when an attempt at real time combat with long-term strategic options would have used up too many resources to allow the length of game and strongly plot-driven nature that the FF series is known for. Nowadays, if I had to pick the one aspect of FFX that bugs me most, it''s the battle system - it''s Pokemon!
[/rant]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think its extremely important to understand the evolution of all aspects of game design. Through a firm understanding in this area, a designer is better equipped in two ways:

1) A better understanding of where games are going. Understanding the evolution of game design lets us make predictions about and innovate toward the future game design ideals by considering the industry''s evolution thus far; so it''s important to observe past patterns and trends in the market, in game players'' preferences, and in game design concepts.

2) Approaching old ideas from new angles. I recently picked up an older game called Netstorm.. I suspect its from around 1995. I won''t go into the details of the game; suffice to say its an RTS that departs dramatically from the norm established by games like Warcraft and Command & Conquer. Ever since, I''ve been considering other new ideas stemming from its interesting gameplay. Furthermore, I''ve observed a lot about the games strengths and weaknesses in a way that can only be realized in looking back from today''s more intensely saturated RTS market.

****************************************

Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@foreverdreamstudios.com

"I create. Therefore I am."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!