Some changes we have seen – Gaming from 1984 to 2021

I am going to go through the most important changes that have happened inside gaming from my birthday to this day. Back in 1984 we had already NES in some gamer’s living rooms. This wasn’t the first gaming device that I ever played. That place was conquered by PC. Computer games in the 80s might have had black and white or eight color graphics. Some games might have had 16 colors from which the graphics would be presented. The resolution was much lower than what we are used to today.

For games’ sounds there was only this horrible noise that was produced by the computers own speaker. In the 90s it was possible to buy a sound card for your PC and some gaming consoles, like Mega Drive, offered a better quality of sound. We were still far from a CD quality of sound effects and background and theme music. The quality of sound progressed as more and more and better consoles became available and as the technology advanced.

Getting the input from player has progressed. From keyboards, joysticks and simple controllers to game pads like Dual Sense and Xbox Elite. We have seen the beginning of real virtual experience. If you compare the controller that is seen in the related picture to the latest Dual Shock you really can see the difference. When the NES controller has only axis buttons and four other buttons my Dual Shock 4 has way more buttons. You really cannot compare these two in the means of human engineering.

What else has progressed? Designing games has taken major steps forward. Consider for example how much games like Doom and Diablo have influenced almost all types of video games. Besides bringing more technical advancements these games brought us some improvements in pure game design. Many games today have taken influences from role playing games. These features include developing and choosing a role or abilities to develop inside the game. You can gather experience and rare items that are able to be gathered by the player.

We have also seen how social media and internet have both made an impact. Did you at some time go to LAN parties? Well, I did. Haven’t been in those kinds of happenings in a while and this is also the trend as connectivity has increased so that you can get online almost everywhere in the world. Also the size of computers, mobile phones and consoles has been getting smaller all the time.

So if you would travel back to 80s you would see a different world. I think today we are dealing with lots of devices and activities that require more and more these skills that can probably be called something like “digital skills”. These skills include using social media and even marketing and using your visibility in your own advance and in collaboration with your friends and people also that you work with. We are all connected together and there is huge amount of data moving in these networks all the time. As some of us have combined sport activities to the new digital world I think that the amount spent exercising has decreased in overall.

Time will show in what direction we are moving. It has become clear that skills with internet, mobile devices, laptop and desktop computers and different kinds of networks are required. And so are also skills in teaching and providing a decent support for the final users of this technology. Big data has already made it’s impact on games that are actually gathering all kinds of data from within the game as the player makes its moves and progresses in the game.

My Personal Relationship with PS4

I hadn’t thought about PlayStation 4 yet when a friend asked me a question – Do you know when is the new console actually getting released? That was probably back in 2013. Before that comment entered my mind I had been steadily working through titles available for PS3. I had played almost endless series of driving games like Need For Speed series and Dirt 1 and 3.

I had time and energy to play video games. Back then I wasn’t so interested, as you can figure, about retro games. They were only a slight curiosity I casually worked with using emulators on a PC. So I thought it would be nice to finally buy the latest PlayStation.

I actually made the purchase after I had just turned 30 years old in 2014. My budget was, back then, low, but I managed to save money to buy the device. I bought also my first PS4 game at the same time. It was Tomb Raider that was released back in 2013.

At first I had an ambitious idea of completing every game I got for PS4. It worked out only until I got like my fifth game or so. I managed to get through Tomb Raider and Call of Duty Ghosts. Games for PS4 were pricey at that time and there was only small selection. Many games were releases of old games released as HD remakes. So I had a new gaming console but there were only a handful of games.

Was it really worth it? I started to think about this. When I am writing this I think that this device had some really nice games. Some of my favorite games are NBA 2K14 and Dirt Rally. These two really stand out in the list of my favorite games for PS4. I just think there were many titles that I didn’t really get into so much. I guess it has also something to do about that I was back then already a bit over 30 years old.

It is said that when you are young you get more inspired by the music of that time. I think this goes also for video games. One year can be very significant for a nineteen-year-old but one year for a forty-year-old is not so big deal. So I was a bit older and had already got through experiences of the first PlayStation. I just think that PS4 never conquered my hearth like PS1 once did. This personal relationship made me think that it would be not a good idea to buy a new gaming console. So tot this day I haven’t found a reason to get a new console. I have a fresh PC that I can play also some new games.

After all there is an infinite amount of games that you can play. I think the games I am going to play don’t necessarily have to be the newest anymore and PS4 kind of ended my habit of playing the newest games released. PS4 is now not the newest gaming console anymore. It isn’t retro either. It is somewhere in between of retro and new. I think it’s time now for me to take some distance to this console and try to find some other games that I can enjoy. If you did enjoy PS4 or are still enjoying it that’s fine. I just think it lacked a personality and that’s why I have not played it or enjoyed playing it as much as I did PS3 and some older devices.

Stay Awhile and Listen – The Book About Blizzard Entertainment

I was searching for something new and fresh to read. I don’t remember exactly on what website was it that I found a book about Blizzard Entertainment that was recommended as a good read for a gaming fan. The words I used for this search might have been something like “good gaming books to read”. I used this phrase and made a search through Google and I immediately found a website that recommended about five books. Some of these were already familiar for me and some of them I had already read. But a book about Blizzard? That sure sounded interesting to me.

As I started to read this book, it was titled “Stay Awhile and Listen”, I first noticed that text was written with a large and somewhat loose font. I didn’t let it bother me and kept reading. This book managed to capture my attention very efficiently. It introduces the people that were actually behind games like WarCraft and Diablo. It describes how they got inspiration from games like Dune II and UFO – Enemy Unknown and from earlier role-playing-games, not so graphical rogue-likes, and also from Dungeons and Dragons.

Diablo was very different than those other role-playing-games that were released on PC in the 90s. It defined a whole new genre of games combining action and traditional role-playing elements. It focused also in gathering different kinds of items that could be weapons, armor, rings or amulets that had special attributes. There could be, for example, an axe that gave, once equipped, more strength and maybe more resistance to enemies spells to its user. At first Diablo was designed to be turn-based but eventually it was made to be real-time. It featured an ability to play with multiple players through internet. Back in 1996 that was something revolutionary.

There have been two sequels made for Diablo and there was a whole genre of these new kinds of role-playing-games that many of us gamers have had the joy to play. I wasn’t so excited about traditional role playing or Dungeons and Dragons. To me Diablo was about the first RPG that I played, ever. I remember it being released for PC and PlayStation. The game that brought me closer to enjoying RPGs was definitely Diablo II. I liked Diablo 3 also very much. WarCraft then made something out of the genre that was initiated by Dune II. This genre was called real-time-strategy. WarCraft made some improvements to Dune II.

Before releasing these legendary games the guys of Blizzard were involved in computer technology as programmers and visual artists. They were working in this field already. They had some other interests also. It is told in this book that they really much enjoyed playing games like Sega Mega Drives NHL 94. Back in the 90s they were very young and very talented. So the book describes also their other activities and tells something about how this team worked and who was responsible for visual look, animation and programming. This was an effort of the whole team so you couldn’t tell so much about which member was actually responsible of the whole game. It was more like about they working as a team and every ones effort was needed.

I can recommend this book for any fan of 90s video games and especially for a fan of WarCraft, Diablo or them both. It was actually for me a fast read and I read it in about two weeks. At least that’s a fast read for me. It wasn’t a pricey book. It cost me about 20 euros and I bought it from a Finnish web store. So you should definitely read this book.

The Ultimate Incompatibility (of Old Windows Games)

I have games. I mean, I have lots of games. Old games, new games, interesting games, rare games, big box games, err…PC games? Yes.  I have lots of PC games. How can you play old PC games? With a PC? Yes. But what is your operating system? What is your graphics card? Processor? Do you actually have today a SSD instead of HDD and does it really matter?

The point here is that you were, earlier, playing these games with a computer that had maybe Windows 98, Windows XP or MS-DOS. Now it is 2021. The standard in Windows is Windows 10. It was only while ago when Windows 7 lost its support from Microsoft. Hardware does evolve. Operating systems keep developing. There are many changes. PC is a strong standard but its weakness is that old games that you were able to play earlier don’t necessarily work anymore.

You can have an old PlayStation or NES. You can then play these games with this device. And the strength of consoles compared to PC is just that. They can deliver games and playing them is reliable. This might have something to do with the traditional mentality of computer gamers. It used to be a good thing that your PC was fast. So basically we are having games as physical copies lying around in corners. I have made tens or maybe even hundreds of purchases from flee markets. Many times the game finally ended up not working on my Windows 10.

One solution for this is setting up an old computer that is running some old operating system. I haven’t tried this trick. Some games are so popular that there are fan-made patches that enable you to play the game. If your game is compatible with DOS you can always download DOSBox. You can also try to run your games on some virtual machine that has the right operating system. Steam is full of old games that are available for purchase. They work. That’s what you pay for.

So operating systems change. So does the hardware. So drivers play a big role in this game of games. We are forced to update our devices. You have to buy a new phone in say two to three years. Computers might last a bit longer but you can’t play latest games with a pc that is five years old. At least if you don’t update it anyhow. This problem is also visible on PlayStation and even Xbox. Basically the problem is that some old games are just so good that some gamers still want to play them.

Why aren’t there better emulators for old PC games? And this applies most to Windows 98 and XP era. There would even be some commercially interesting ideas about this subject. Would you pay for a retro console or software that you could play your old retro style games?

My Story

Oh. Where do I begin. I was born in 1984. Two years later my little brother was born. As any parent my parents noticed how clever I was. Or so they thought about it. They thought I was special. We lived in Helsinki for the first four years of my life. We moved to Vantaa in 1988 as my father got a job in high-tech electronics factory. He ended up having a thirty-year career in that company. Later I got to solder some components together but that’s another story.

So it was about 1987 when my father bought our family our first personal computer. I was very interested in it. I started to figure out some characters from the keyboard and I even wrote something with a keyboard before I learned to read. Our family didn’t teach me or my brother to read until we went to school and we learned to read and write actually there.

I was about nine years old when I got my Sega Mega Drive. I really liked Sonic The Hedgehog, Streets of Rage II and NHL 94. I had already played some Sierras games, some casual games, like Space Commander and many others. Space Quest, Larry, King’s Quest, Indiana Jones, Operation Wolf, Bubble Bobble, Sim City and so on.

This was only an introduction to the world I said Hello to as I got a PlayStation. Playing Mega Drive was fun. But the cartridges didn’t bring so much content. You can think about it. A Mega Drive game is about 1 MB. There is about 650 MB on a CD-ROM. So you can figure out how the games would be more longer and they also had more to offer as more and more people and even adults became aware of this situation.

PlayStation really sparked things for me. I played. I enjoyed. Other things in my life were playing basketball and going to junior high as I was studying here in Finland. I really enjoyed life. I even got myself a skateboard and actually also a snowboard. We hang around in Helsinki or Vantaa at parks and had really fun time. It was a fun period in my life.

I played so many games. I had about forty titles and I was eager to loan any games that my friends had. I didn’t get to modding then. I played Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Gran Turismo, Oddworld, Colin McRae Rally, Medievil, Fear Effect, Final Fantasy, Silent Hill and Diablo.

I finally sold my PlayStation for so little money. I don’t recall the actual sum but it was about 120 euros. Damn. For all those 40 games, memory cards, two controllers, cables and everything else included. I would have liked to save them for me to use later. But I didn’t think about it then.

I went to Finnish Army in 2003. I had just graduated from high school and I had a place to study in a university. So things were looking up to me. I was not home playing games. I was shooting targets in the woods. So there were some years that I was, lets say, “lost in the woods” with my plans and my life. I believe this is not uncommon at all. I was then 20 years old.

Then in 2006 my mother found an original Xbox in sale. She bought it for me. The first game was Need For Speed Most Wanted. I was back in the game. Later I got to know my wife. She had a PS3. So I bought Final Fantasy XIII to it. I started really getting into gaming again. I started a school in programming. It was a school of applied university from which I graduated in 2016 at last.

So this brought me to my roots again. I started collecting retro in 2017 when I got a PS2 for me. Today I have a bit tens of devices and hundreds of games for them. I enjoy playing. It is my work, hobby and the thing I get most out of.

What is your story? I would like to hear something from you, my readers. Please leave a comment here or contact me some other way.

Some Titles from Capcom

I got the idea for this blog post as I was playing the first Devil May Cry. It was actually an HD release and it was for Xbox 360. I find this game to be of good quality especially considering it was first released for PS2 in 2001. I find many familiar features inside the game. For me it brings especially Resident Evil to mind.

I think it’s not possible to not notice what company made Devil May Cry. It was Capcom. You just can’t miss their logo from the beginning of the game. Actually, when you think about it, there is a huge amount of video games of very good quality that were released by Capcom. Many of these games are familiar to me. So it makes an impression.

First memories that I have that are related to this company are from the game Street Fighter II. I have strong nostalgic feelings when someone even mentions Resident Evil. Do you still remember Dead Rising? Do I have to tell you about Mega Man? Dino Crisis? This list is very impressive.

The story of Capcom started in 1979. It was originally part of a company called I.R.M. It started concentrating on video games software instead of gaming hardware of arcades and was actually named Capcom in 1983. They released their first game ment to be played with a video game console in 1985. It was a game called “1942” for Nintendo Entertainment System or, as shortened, NES.

I personally have enjoyed many of their games. Today they have over 2500 employees. One of their games, Street Fighter, is still a very popular game in eSports. There are many players that wish to compete in this game of this genre. I think it has these certain qualities that make it perfectly suitable for competitive one-against-one matches.

You can read more about the history of Capcom here

Interesting Book About PlayStation

My goal in this blog post is to introduce this subject and this book to my readers. At the beginning I have to make clear that this book is only available in Finnish so don’t get too excited. I am afraid that you won’t enjoy it if you can’t read Finnish text even if it would be possible for you to buy this book. I don’t know if any libraries in Finland have this book. It was pushed only a limited amount of copies and I am afraid that there aren’t enough books for everyone. But that’s not actually a problem for me because I received the book that I had paid already earlier. There were some problems in delivering the book but I think this is understandable since this publisher isn’t a big company.

But to get to the point – this is a book about how at first the first Sony’s gaming console, PlayStation, hit this country and how it was received. We are a small nation of only a bit more than 5 million people that are currently living here. But as players of video games we are very enthusiastic. So thinking proportionally there is a large amount of players in here. People in Finland are basically doing fine and the standard of living is good. To say it truthfully – we buy a lot of games.

PlayStation was a big hit in Finland as it was also world wide. It is said in this book that Finnish people are also faithful to the brand to some extent. The name of the book can be translated to “PlayStation People” or “PlayStation Nation” (rhymes funnily). There were PlayStation fans already waiting when it was time to release PlayStation 2. Have you heard of Sing Star games? Well, it was a series of games that was particularly popular in here. It started from games for PS2 and ended with a game or two released for PS4. It’s a bit sad that new games aren’t being released no more.

The book goes on to explain how PS3 was released. It also tells about a game company called Housemarque. It’s first hit game was Supreme Snowboarding. It developed lots of games for different PlayStations. It is still developing games for PS5 also. The book describes latest and greatest games for PS4. It ends with some words about the release of PS5.

I liked this book a lot. It has 184 pages and lots of pictures so it isn’t a long read. The books availability is a bit limited. I did order it in November and I received it in January. So it was a bit delayed. If you set aside these small problems it is a great book. I ordered a hardcover version of my book. There was also paperback version available when I ordered my book.

Space Invaders for PS1

Since I recently played Space Commanders, that is a Space Invaders clone for PC, I decided to pick up this PS1 game titled also as Space Invaders. I bought it some time ago but I haven’t really played it.  The price of this game was low. That’s one reason I decided to buy it. Back when I made the decision to buy this game I had already many items in my mind that I wanted to order. It kind of came with the other stuff that I ordered.

It is basically the same game that especially retro game fans know. The original game was released in 1978 as an arcade game and it was also released for Atari 2600 in 1980. Graphics have been improved for this PS1 release. It doesn’t introduce three-dimensional graphics. There is also some slight modifications made in the game play. Activision was the publisher of this PS1 version of this game.

All in all this is  a nice little game. It didn’t keep me playing for a long time. It is although interesting to me at this time of my hobby as a game enthusiast. It is  not difficult to figure out why this game was popular when it was remade for PS1.

As I read the Wikipedia page of Space Invaders I realize that there was a big difference in the arcade version and the console (Atari 2600) version of this game. During that period gaming consoles located at home weren’t as powerful as specially crafted devices that were placed inside arcades. I really don’t know much about their technology.

Things like game consoles and computers are things I know a bit more about. If you are interested in arcade machines and games you could play with them you might want to check this site: https://www.mamedev.org/

One Great DOS Game

In UFO – Enemy Unknown you face a serious situation. All the worlds countries have to set aside their disagreements because aliens are attacking the Earth. You first get to decide where are you going to set up your base. You get to build the base. You have money that you can use for research, training and otherwise imnprove your base. When you get to attack against UFOs you get also to missions that happen when an UFO gets shot down. For that you have to have soldiers, guns and you can evenuse tanks.

This game has many different areas. It combines very nicely strategy and action. I am trying not to spoil the game so much in this text since it has some moments in it that can be a bit suprising. I am not going to reveal any more about the plot of this game.

This game was first released for PC in 1994. When I first encountered it it was end of the 90s. This game was for me like candy for a child. That’s about how attractive it was. UFO – Enemy Unknown had many innovations that set it apart from some other strategy games. It also told a story that was full of Science Fiction influences.

I definitely recommend you to get into this game and give it a chance. It is an old game, but it also is a gold game or an oldie goldie if you want to use that term. If you are into DOS games already I can do nothing more than recommend this game. Also if you’re into alien stuff or have even a slight interest in Science Fiction.

Short Retro Moment

So this game is actually “Space Commanders”. It was released as a DOS game back in 1983. This is actually a game that I remember playing as a very young kid. This was made possible by the fact that I was extremely interested in computers when I was a young boy. There really weren’t any real violence in this game or I was too young to understand it. It is a game where you shoot objects but thanks to poor graphical presentation the deeper meaning of this game didn’t really come clear. Nowadays it is more important as the graphics are better to make sure that the content of the game is appropriate.

This is actually a clone of well known classic called “Space invaders”. I tried Space Commanders after so many years. It’s design is very interesting. I could be interested to see its source code. I don’t know if it is possible. Maybe I use my favorite search engine to find more information. I didn’t see, at least yet, who has designed this game.

I see already some structures in this game. I mean I understand some concepts and some designed features. I almost see the code in front of my eyes but not so clearly. The game works like this. You have a space ship that you can move to up, down, left and right. You can also shoot a bullet. Your mission is to shoot these, we can call them invaders, that are moving towards you. The game ends when invaders reach the bottom of the screen. Invaders move in, is that, six rows or in some kind of a formation. I don’t describe the movement so accurately.

There is a high score chart. It holds only the best score and the score gets deleted if you exit the game. After you have shot all the invaders you get back to where the game started and you face the next group of enemies. They  are a bit faster this time. At the top of the screen there is a randomly appearing space ship that moves from left to right. If you shoot it you will get a bonus score. When you get 10000 points you get one ship more for you to use. So you have limited lives or fighting ships to use.

This was a nice short moment for me to play my dear, now so retro, game. I remember playing the EGA version while this game was in CGA. I mean actually that this game is black and white while EGA version had some colors. It definitely brought some memories to my mind. And if you wonder what kind of a computer I played this with back then I can tell you that it had a 286 processor. I can’t remember accurately any more details about the computer.

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