The Meaning Of Highscores

What is the true meaning of highscores in video games? I may not have so accurate details but I can tell you my points and views on this issue. I sure do have experiences about playing very different kinds of video games…or computer games (What would you call them?) in arcades and in a living room. So let’s dive in.

I did a quick Google search with phrase “highscores in video games”. I found articles about a movie called “High Score” but there weren’t any articles about this topic. So this is my idea to write a bit about this topic. I came to this as I was playing Commando Arcade, a C-64 game, that had a high score table in it.

To me high scores haven’t been so important. Today we have characters inside games that have a lot of features which is telling about the diversity of todays games. There is more data moving while you play. But back in the age where Commodore 64 was the best there was a different time.

So high scores in games like these were actually very important and they told the player a lot about how they were doing in the game and how much they had progressed. And if you were playing in an arcade and you had a high score on some machine it was a good way to build a reputation for yourself (or actually for your nickname or anything that could be displayed on the list as a name back then).

Today, we have so many measures to discuss about your character in your favourite video game. For example you have experience points. Many modern games have these features that were introduced in the form of role playing games. They are now mixed with sport games so they have a character that can develope it’s abilities. Games have become more complex as the power of the systems has increased.

Sometimes I don’t feel like playing the newest games. Then it’s time for me to get relaxed playing some retro games that are somewhat more simple. That’s why I like these old games. And it also takes me back to feel some nostalgia.

Some Really Big Games Released By Finnish Companies

You might not know that I am from Finland. As a person from this northern land that has only about 5,5 million people living in it I am very proud of our game companies and our game development scene. We have here a strong ground for developing games. People that live here are always interested in latest technology and computers are a hobby for lots of people. Do you know Nokia? It’s from Finland also.

Back in the 1980s Commodore 64 computers were a very big thing in Finland. Many hobbyists were driven into electronics and programming by these Commodores devices. Some people learned programming with BASIC and some people that were really into this kind of stuff were learning how to program in assembly language. There was also people making demos, composing music and creating visual art with these computers.

Game development really lifted its head here in the 1990s. Remedy managed to make a great game called Death Rally. They later released more games. There were also companies like Housemarque and Bugbear, which developed some really nice racing games, like Rally Trophy and Flatout series. Housemarque released a game about snowboarding called Supreme Snowboarding. All these companies had their roots in Finnish demo scene called “demo skene” in our native language. Finnish game companies include also Rovio, Supercell and Redlynx and Frozenbyte.

The ability to adapt technical skills is the base of this kind of progress in game development in Finland. We are a small country after all. We have been the northern most country that is actually farming and it was like this for a long time. You can study game development and even electronic sports here. I hope this post didn’t include too much. It was supposed to be just a post about how gaming and culture has evolved here. And also to promote my home country a bit.

Let’s mention some famous games here that haven’t been already mentioned. Max Payne series, Flatout series, Rally Trophy, Alan Wake, Angry Birds and … I think this is enough. Check out the latest games from your favorite game store which might be Steam for example. And I am not going to forget to mention a game called Noita. It is also a game that has been developed in Finland.

What Makes Gaming So Appealling?

Why do you play? How long did you play that game this time? You should get a better hobby! These are some comments made by people that are not so much into gaming. I get this sometimes. This blog post is trying to explain what it is in gaming that keeps drawing our attention and some reasons why it is an enjoyable activity and why do we spend so much time playing games.

Playing video games has been popular since the first known video game. I am talking about a certain game here. It was called “Tennis for Two”. It was introduced in 1958. Here’s the link to Wikipedia if you want to go read some more facts about this game. As a game it was as simple and basic as can be. Let’s think about this for a while. In 1958 video games were something new. There must have been something very interesting here for a human being. What games have that draw our attention? What makes us want to play more and more and until we are exhausted and tired?

One thing is our natural rewarding system. When something positive happens on the screen or when we accomplish something very meaningful our nerve system gives us a small dose of dopamine. This dose becomes larger when a person uses some sort of drug. This leads to a kind of a malfunction with this system and makes us depressed for a short period of time. This is how this natural system that has been built to our brains functions. So achieving our goal in a game gives us a reward.

I have also one point about collecting games. Why do we want more and more all the time. You know how this is. You get many great games. You are satisfied for some time but eventually you want more. You buy more games. And this, let’s give it a name that is somewhat related to programming, “loop”, keeps repeating. This has something to do with our human beings natural behavior. We are collectors by nature. That’s how human beings started their path. They were hunters and they also collected things they found from their surroundings.

These points can be true. They might be true and they might explain something. This however doesn’t take away all the things that make you or me enjoy playing video games. I have my reasons why I keep playing. It gives something for me. For me it is a way to get loose from the stress I get from studying or working. Is gaming expensive? I would say no because it isn’t as expensive as some common hobbies like ice hockey for example is. It isn’t as healthy if you think about the matter. Is it childish? I think today gaming is becoming more and more a hobby for a person of any age. There are already some very old people that play video games. I think today games have a very diverse content and they make people more active and this makes our entertainment more challenging for the growing audience.

So there are things that can explain this phenomenon. It still doesn’t take away things a player has learned while playing. I for example gained lots of skills in a foreign language that was actually English. Gaming is lots of fun. Collecting games can draw you away from using drugs or alcohol. We have our reasons to behaving how we do. Gaming is a hobby for lots of people. They have a reason to play. And I think we can learn a lot about human nature also by playing the games that inspire us and keep uplifting our minds. So, let’s keep on playing!

 

Comparison of Two NBA Jam games

The latest post I wrote some days ago was about basketball games and how they have evolved. While we’re at the subject I am going to continue to write about basketball games. So todays subject is to compare older NBA Jam game, actually it’s NBA Jam Tournament Edition for Sega Mega Drive, and a newer one that is NBA Jam for PS3.

It’s amazing to think that while graphics and controls have evolved a lot the game called NBA Jam has really changed just a bit in all this time that is between the first Mega Drive release and the PS3 release. You still play with two basketball players against two other players. There are some details that have been added. If you haven’t played the original Mega Drive version you can still most likely enjoy the newer version.

The newer version has challenges for one and two players. I think it’s more fun to play with a human player be it against each other or as teammates. I have to mention that this game wasn’t first developed for Mega Drive. To be exact it was  developed first as a game that would be  played in an arcade. This was also where my first experiences of this game started back in the 90s. We put some coins inside the machine and played against each other. This is probably where the game aimed and this is where it becomes attractive to us players.

I have to tell more about NBA Jam since it is one of my favorite games of all time – at least I think that way right now. Maybe it’s just my favorite basketball or sports game. The players heads seem to be a bit big. This is because they originally wanted to bring more details to the players heads. I think NBA Jam was released also for PC. If a player scores points three times in a row, with no other player scoring, he becomes “on fire”. So about any shot will go in. If some other player scores the “on fire” wears off. I can tell you that when this player is hot you must shoot three pointers or at least this makes sense if you are trying to beat your opponent.

I enjoyed both of these games. Mega Drive version has more nostalgia but PS3 version has better and updated graphics and it also brings some details and features that wouldn’t have been possible to create in a Mega Drive version of NBA Jam. I didn’t pay a lot for any of these two games. Actually I think I bought them for exactly the same price and that was about 15 euros. I bought Mega Drive version from a flee market and PS3 version was found from a store and it was on discount. So, I liked both versions and I still play them casually. This is also a fun game to be played in a house party but maybe it is too nerdy for that…I don’t know…It might depend…

How Basketball Games Have Evolved – From Super Real Basketball to NBA2K18

The first basketball game I ever owned was Super Real Basketball. It was released for Sega Mega Drive. Later NBA Jam came and it was maybe the best basketball game, or maybe title, of all time in sport games history. Let’s take a deeper look into how Super Real Basketball was played and how it was compared to the latest basketball game I have right now in my collections.

Super Real Basketball was fast paced game. You could move one player that had or didn’t have the ball. You had your defensive play and your offensive play. You could steal the ball if opponent tried to pass it to a teammate. When you had a drive to the basket there suddenly appeared an animation that required you to hit the shoot button at right moment. If you were on defense and you were near the player that was trying to score you could block the shot, again, by pressing a button at correct time. If you wanted to shoot a three pointer that was also possible.

The limitations of one of the first Sega Mega Drive basketball games were that although it promised a sense of reality it actually wasn’t very realistic. One thing there is that could have been designed better and that was the statistics of the game. The game didn’t have strong statistics. There weren’t real names of players of NBA or any other league. Names were just some basic names. You really couldn’t make much of a difference between players. Some players were faster than others or had better shooting skills. You just couldn’t name a player that was good with for example ball handling.

When it comes to the latest basketball games there is lots of improvements that have been made over the time as sport games have generally developed more. The latest NBA game I have is NBA2K18. The 2K series of basketball games has had good reviews, I think, since the release of NBA2K14. I think you can already trust the quality. When there is another season beginning there will be a good basketball game made with the latest players and teams.

Statistics ar great in NBA2K18. You basically play maybe two or three seasons and develop your player. You first choose some qualities of the player that don’t change like the name, number of the players shirt and height and even weight. You have to think what kind of a player you want to create. Will it be a 3 point shooter, point guard or play maker or do you want to become a center that has amazing blocking and defensive skills. After that you play the regulat season, one season is 82 games long and if you win enough games, you go to playoffs. Your player gets skill points that give you options to buy more stats for your player.

The gameplay is very nicely developed especially compared to the first basketball game I was talking about earlier. You can make steals, although you can get a penalty, if you are too much into stealing the ball, block a shot of an opponent in real time. Shooting is based on how open you are, what kind of a release you have and also how good is the ability of shooting of your player. You have a strong feel that you are actually the player. The Mega Drive game was about team play – the newer game is about individual player, but you have some game modes that enable you to play as a team or as a coach. I’ve only played NBA 2Ks, 2K14 and 2K18, as a single, individual, player.

So there is a lot of progress. I can tell you about NBA Jam also a bit. I first started playing it in an arcade. We had a great arcade that had games like NBA Jam and Mortal Kombat. So that was the first touch. I later played with a friend that had College Slam on his PC. That was cool. Lately I bought NBA Jam for Mega Drive. It’s still a great and fast paced basketball game that is played two versus two. There have been many versions and I like the PS3 version the most. It’s funniest when played with an opponent that is a human person. It’s not so much fun if played against a computer.

So these two basketball games are ones that I truly have myself played and I’ve played them a lot. It’s really nice to see how the sports games have been developing since late 1980s. And you can see how licensing, and I mean here that the players and teams have real names, affects the experience of the game. You can name a player that is good at shootiing three pointers for example. Like, to mention someone, Stephen Curry. It gives that certain touch to the games build aaround playing basketball. There are also games in which you can play on the streets. Maybe I have space and time to write about them some other time.

Redream – A Dreamcast Emulator

Segas last gaming console, Dreamcast, was released in 1999, at least in Europe. It was actually released in November 1998 in Japan. It wasn’t a bad console. Many say it was the best gaming console that was ever released. To some it was even better than the first PlayStation. It sure was more powerful. It had many great games but it only stayed available for consumers to buy for a short period of time. Dreamcast was drawn from manufacture at the end of 2001. So there might have been more games released for this system if it would have been longer in the markets.

Some good Dreamcast games that I’ve played are Skies of Arcadia, NBA 2K2 and Crazy Taxi. I have heard that games like Sonic Adventure, Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Quake III Arena and Jet Set Radio are good games also. If you have a game for Dreamcast I haven’t mentioned here feel free to comment this post. Skies of Arcadia is a nice role playing game. It reminds a lot of Final Fantasy games. Crazy Taxi is a kind of a driving game where you pick up customers and drive them where they want to go. NBA2K2 is pretty much what the title says – a basketball game.

Let’s talk about Redream. It is a Dreamcast emulator. It is available for Linux, Windows and Mac. There is also an option for a download for Raspberry Pi. The setup is made easy for a user of a computer. You select the download that corresponds to your operating system. Then you unpack and just run the application. You might want to add shortcut to desktop also. The user interface is also easy to learn. You can see all the games you have currently. You can select the location of your rom files inside your computer. You can also adjust some settings concerning your saved games, input devices, video (for example the resolution of the screen you are using) and some other options related to localization.

Redream is a good looking Dreamcast emulator. It’s clearly the easiest one to use when I think about its competitors such as DEmul and NullDC. They required more fiddling with the settings. Dreamcast emulators, all in all, are far more easier to setup than a well known PS2 emulator PCSX2 is. Don’t get me wrong. PCSX2 is a great emulator. It just is a bit hard for a non technical user to setup. Redream also works very nicely. I haven’t had any problems. It hasn’t crashed at all as I have used it for some time now. You can download stable release or development release. This means that the stable version has been tested and development version is the most recent versio´n that has the most recent new features.

You can download Redream here

Transition from 2D to 3D

You can see clearly the differences between games based on 2D graphics and games based on 3D technology. Two dimensional gameplay has been around longer. Typical 2D games are platformers, like Super Mario Bros 3, shoot-em-ups, like Gynoug, M.U.S.H.A. and many others, and beat-em-ups, like games of Streets Of Rage series.

The distinction becomes clear when you are playing a game. Movement can be restricted only to two dimensional movement. You can think of how playing Tekken is compared to Street Fighter II or Mortal Kombat. You can also compare the first Super Mario to a pioneer of 3D games Super Mario 64, which was a game for Nintendo 64. Some games are something from between 2D and 3D. Like many PlayStation 1 games.

Games that are three dimensional usually provide wider movement options and are based on 3D models. You can clearly interact stronger with the objects that are inside the game. Graphics also look more realistic. I don’t think there is a reason today to call a game a lousy game for not having 3D qualities. Again, this is just a difference in the game and it has surely been thoroughly given a long thought when the game was developed. This hasn’t always been the case.

Somewhere in the middle of the 90s 3D was amazing and new. The technology that was used for making games was developing at a very fast pace. Today these games are considered to be retro. It doesn’t matter so much today how the game is developed as long as it is of a good quality overall.

So I would say that we today have a much wider and more accepting community of gamers playing many different kinds of games. And I think this is very good. There will always be games that are based on the latest technology but there is also games that aim to some other target.

The featured image here stands out as Tomb Raider was one of the earliest and most popular games that used 3D technology. It was released in 1996. The possibilities of this games graphical abilities was amazing and almost endless as you could run the game with very high graphical settings if you had a good graphics card. I recall this time as a dawn of new technology that made personal computers more powerful than ever.

Getting to Know Nintendo

I have played a lot of Sega Mega Drive, various PlayStation consoles, PC and even Xbox. I started thinking about what have I to this day missed. What would be something for me to get to know next? I figured I hadn’t played Nintendo so much and seriously. What were the titles I would like to get into and could I maybe purchase a new console. Could I learn something new about gaming?

I thought about this for some days. I had some plans about first getting some NES games. I figured also that I haven’t played any games in the Zelda series. It would be expensive to buy first or second game for NES. It was almost 50 euros and I would have only old retro game. It wouldn’t be a great experience.

I was thinking about this. I thought that I could buy Nintendo Switch. This would however cost over 300 euros and I would have to think about games and spend even more money to get them. I finally made my decision. I would get my hands on Nintendo Wii.

My Nintendo Wii came with one game that was Super Mario Galaxy. The price tag was 80 euros. Shipping didn’t cost anything since the purchase was expensive enough which was a nice deal for me. I was a bit surprised of the size of the console – it was definitely small and light.

I haven’t played any Wii games before. I have barely seen it. I knew the controls were very different if compared to PlayStation or Xbox. I had ordered a gamepad with my Wii. It was a bit of an surprise that I had to plug the gamepad to this other controller called “Wii Remote”. And I didn’t get the gamepad to work. What to do next? I started the device. I even had to go to the store to buy some batteries for this new and exciting thing I had just added to my gaming collections.

So it was soon getting late and I just had this thing called Wii in my hands. I knew also that I could play GameCube games with it. I had ordered also one game for GameCube. I found out that I would need at least an original GameCube controller and maybe even a memory card. So I had to order them also. I did that next morning.

Nintendo Wii is a very nice product. I connected it with my television through SCART. There was a HDMI adapter also available but I haven’t, at least yet, ordered one. That would surely make the display more detailed and sharp. I found out that playing a bit of Super Mario Galaxy introduces this system for a complete beginner. The controls aren’t so difficult once you get the hang of it. You have to be a bit careful not to slash your friend or drop a bottle of lemonade from your table while playing. But after all it works great. You are playing with both of your hands and not only with your thumbs and index fingers. You have several buttons and sometimes you have to shake your Wii Remote for Mario to spin fast around for couple of times.

I am going to play my Wii some more. I already have three games and one GameCube game. Those three are Zelda – The Twilight Princess, Resident Evil 4 and, the one I already mentioned, Super Mario Galaxy. The GameCube game I got is Resident Evil and it’s a remake of the original one that was released for PS1. If you want to get yourself a Wii just remember to check if it does run also GameCube games. Newer versions of the console don’t support this feature. And remember that you have to have yourself at least a controller of GameCube and preferably also a memory card. I might write a post or a few about Nintendo Wii games in the future so stay tuned.

Some Nostalgia from The Dawn of 3D Modeling

Sometimes I find myself going back to where it all began. It was my beginning inside gaming. Somebody else might feel different about this. For me the 90s was an inspiring period of time. We saw the rise of 3D modeling and textures. The development of technology enabled players to enjoy more and more realistic graphics. First came Doom. It brought a realistic environment that you could move in. Soon games like Tomb Raider and Quake were released.

One of my favorite games of this time was, and still is, Kingpin – Life of Crime. This articles featured image is from that game. There are some reasons for me to like this game. A rap, or hiphop, posse Cypress Hill was very deeply involved in this games development. They appeared as voice actors and also produced the music that was in this game. What is the game about? It takes place in some ghetto somewhere. The player takes a role of a gangster. Basically this game is a first person shooter.

3D modeling has come a long way from these days. It was 1999 when Kingpin was released. I think about this as I just a while ago have played a really nice rally game – WRC 9 that was released recently. I think about how much the job of a 3D artist has changed. Back in the days you could see the models edges. Now you don’t see such edgy graphics. I also think about how much it affected gaming that there suddenly were graphics processing units that could reliably convert 3D graphics for players to enjoy.

3D acceleration in home computers brought computers that had more performance. Earlier it was thought that processor in computer was the component that made it faster and stronger. There was more to it. Some time ago we saw also some other components that can bring your PCs performance stronger. I’m talking about solid state drives or SSDs.

I strongly believe in the development of technology. We are going to see many advancements that are also somewhat related to gaming. Be it virtual reality or the development of sharper screens this is bringing us as human beings more advanced games. Technology has many qualities. Bringing games for players to play is just one side of it.

If you are interested in Kingpin – Life of Crime go check this website : https://www.kingpin.info/

History Of Optical Drive (inside gaming)

Optical drives have existed in gaming consoles for tens of years. The technology existed way before it was used in mainstream game devices. Back in the 90s there were several consoles that were equipped with optical disc drive. One of the earliest was the expansion to Segas Mega Drive called Mega-CD.

As Compact Disc technology gained ground there was a strong change coming in the form of 3D technology. Sega maybe was one the firsts to make use of new technology but it made a slight mistake. It didn’t have a gaming console capable to produce 3D models and/or graphics. Later Sony made its entry to gaming business with PlayStation and claimed its spot as the developer of the most popular gaming system.

During this period there were several devices released from Philips, Atari and Panasonic just to name a few. The competition was tough. We can compare the amount of data that game cartridges had to what was possible through CD technology. An average CD-R disc holds 700 MB. Nintendo 64s cartridges hold only about 35 MB. This meant that there was 20 times more space for any game to be developed.

First CD-ROM made its way and later came DVDs in the form of Sonys PlayStation 2. This was back in the beginning of 2000s. DVDs offer about 4,7 GB of space. This format was followed by Blurays that hold data from 25 GB up to 100 GB depending on which technology it uses or to say more precisely how many layers the disc has. Blurays are used in the latest generation of gaming consoles but this is about to change as PS5 and Xbox Series X are making their way to the markets later this year.

Todays games can take up so much space that you have to download a large update during the installation of the game. As speeds of internet connections keep developing it is today possible to produce gaming consoles and computers that don’t have, or don’t need to have, any optical drives. This gives the consumer an ability to just pay the game and install it directly to the hard drive. Of course this makes it easier to manage game collections but maybe something is lost as there is no physical material to collect or showcase. All in all digital gaming makes manufacturing gaming devices cheaper and it also shows this way to the consumer. PS5 will be released as all-digital version and a version that has an optical drive just to mention an example.

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