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.

What’s Going On?

This blog is mainly about gaming. It’s also my dear hobby and it always tells something also about me. So I dedicate this blog post to describing what has been going on lately in my life. I still try to write here as frequently as possible. It just seems that I don’t right now have so much time for video games. But I do have played a bit of Skyrim. Well, I have played it for about six and a half hours. I also started working again. I was unemployed for just about three weeks. So I got my next job almost instantly. It’s been keeping me busy but at least I don’t have to work on weekends.

There are lots of games available today. I chose my next game to be Skyrim. If you haven’t played it or if you are considering whether to get your hands on it, I can describe it a bit here. It might first seem that this game is some kind of an action game. That’s not completely true. I would compare to the first Deus Ex. It combines action and roleplaying elements cleverly. It’s not turn based but the game play is strongly depending on things like developing your character. Your character develops as you do different things and gather the actual experience. In the beginning of the game you get to choose your characters class and of course you have to modify the look and feel of your character visually and of course you have to give the character a good name that you can relate to.

There are many skills in Skyrim that you can develop. There’s too many for me to start telling something about them. Let’s just say there are maybe hundreds of them. There is also some magic skills that you can learn and use. You have to choose do you want to battle with two handed weapons, one handed weapons using also a shield or maybe you want to use ranged weapons like a bow. You can carry a limited amount of equipment with you. If the limit is reached your characters get slow. You can save your game any time you want and you can even use one quick save slot.

To this day I find this game interesting. It isn’t the newest game around. And the version I am playing is for PS4 so it is a HD remake. I already had this game for PS3 and Xbox 360 but I bought this latest remake so I could enjoy a bit better graphics. It was, again, in sale so I decided to buy it. Well, I also ordered one very interesting game at same time. It was actually Tetris for NES. So I made again a small purchase that had, again, very interesting games in it.

Maybe that is all for now. I hope I don’t get too tired and get to spend also time playing more video games as I do have free time sometimes.

How Far Are We?

I had an idea of a text in which I would be describing how we are kind of tricked to being inside the world that a particular game we are playing is providing us. Could computer and video games bring us someday to worlds like in the movie Matrix? If that would be possible – how could you trick your mind in to believing that you are, definitely, in that fantasy world?

I will approach this subject with thinking about your senses. You basically have different kinds of inputs in your body that can determine what you see and feel and hear and so on. We are far in that we can bring you some visually and aurally pleasant sensations. What if you could add your sense of touching to these? We could probably get to some really odd situations inside this kind of gaming world. Could it be that only these three senses could flip us in to believing that we actually are in some other world? Could there be a way to trick also our sense of balance?

Our efforts in bringing virtual reality have lacked to this day something that would actually make your dreams into reality. You can totally make your vision virtual. Your hearingĀ  can also be tricked. Balance could be tricked also. This leaves us to the ultimate question – how do we make our decisions and interact in this kind of world? Fantasy has a way that can make you feel like you are in a different world. I recently played a game that took me to a different world. And it had me make decisions and actions that defined how I proceeded in the game. It isn’t so important to think about what game it was, but let me tell you that it was actually Skyrim that I was fiddling around with as I had this idea of this blgo post.

But here’s something you can think about – what if we could dream in some kind of virtual environment that would completely capture our senses and make us feel like we are free of our limits iin this real world? Could we find something within our consciousness? Could we discover something this way that we aren’t discovering as we are awake in this reality that kind of captures us physically?

There’s certainly lots of questions in that last paragraph I just wrote. Dreams are very interesting if you start to think about it. I don’t have so much experience about dreams in sense of psychology. But I can think about it. When you dream you basically mix things that you were thinking about with your memories and your subconsciousness that I don’t actually know or understand. I think it’s somewhat what you fish and what you desire mixed with what kind of personality you have. Something like that.

So if we could dream inside virtual reality like that would it help us to heal our kind of injuries that we have in our psyche? Or what kind of an experiment would it be? Would it be pleasant or unpleasant? Would it have any value as entertainment or could we open doors to our minds and our deeply wired brains? Could we discover something that hasn’t yet been discovered? Now there’s something to think about.

I think today we are very far away from this kind of an experience. There is a sharp video picture that captures our eyes. There can maybe be a helmet in your head that captures your vision completely. You have a game pad that you can use to interact in game. Our minds are captured with stories and discussions that we can be involved in. Could there be something more? Are we actually in this kind of situation that we were in when we didn’t even have graphics in games and could this be something that could be possible in the future? Maybe? Maybe not? Would you like this kind of virtual reality in which we could dream our surroundings and even decide somehow when we would want to quit the game? We might be there in maybe 30 next years and this could be an improvement that we are facing just like graphics were back in the 80s.

Working Hard, Concentrating, Getting Enough Sleep

For your information – that glass has Yerba Mate -tea inside it. So, it’s not beer. It’s tea.

I am going to write about a subject that is getting more important as you mature as an individual. I mean when you get to that age, say about 30? Or 35? Well, I’m right now 37. I am a full grown individual. A man. Within his deeply technologically and advanced cave.

When I was younger, say under 25 years old, I used to play concentrated for hours. At the same time I was missing out on some things. Like getting enough sleep. Also I dind’t pay attention to my concentration. I had a bad concentration skill. I couldn’t understand about it.

Concentration in gaming is about how accuirately you can perform your input from your keyboard or game pad. You can concentrate for a long time. Actually it is maybe 45 minutes. After that you start to make small mistakes. This can lead to a “rage quit” or some other form of frustration.

Try to keep that in mind. Remember to keep breaks and especially when you are learning a new game. Gaming is also mental as almost any human activity. And good mental performance is required when you compete.

Eating and sleeping are also important. You can work hard. You can practice. But remember…as there is time for practice there is also time for relaxation and sleep. You can really get something out of you but if you don’t recover from it mentally it’s not going to make things easy for you on a long run. I think you should have different kinds of activities. Moving around or going on a walk or even jogging is good for you.

And remember – eat good so you feel better. Sometimes it’s okay to grab a burger but don’t let it become a habit. When you are younger your mental performmance is better. So I have to work a bit because I am not a 25-year-old anymore. So these things become more important when you grow a bit. I have to also mention that I don’t even have a chance in professional eSports anymore. That’s because my motorical nervous system is basically too old. So I am not going to be the best but I can assure you that I am going to have as much fun as I wan…when I keep playing…so, keep gaming folks!

Tools for Building Your Game

Do you want to know how to actually make a game? Do you have an idea? Let me tell you what it is about and what skills you must learn. You might already have a friend or two that are talented in for example doing graphics or making music with personal computer. Why wouldn’t you get to understand how to make your game? And wouldn’t it be fun even if you wouldn’t actually end up releasing a game?

We will start with 3D modeling. There is this method to make a 3D featured game. You will have to make all the objects that the player encounters and also all surroundings and so on. If you want to make a game that has only 2D graphics that’s ok. But in this blog post we are dealing with 3D environment. So for making animations and 3D models you have to learn to use Blender. Or one of your friends has to. You probably need also skills in programming OpenGL which is based on C++. SO you need to know programming also to “make things click”. you have to have a way for the player to interact. So you need input from player. This is also made possible through an interface that has to be programmed. Making a game isn’t actually all programming but it isn’t all creative thinking also.

You don’t have to make your game with C++. You have a wide variety of different programming languages to choose from. You can make games with Java. I have been fiddling around with SWING. It is quite easy to make a game with a GUI but no graphics. You can make for example a role playing game with a deep plot. There are also some game engines for you to choose from (in Java). Some of them are engines like LITIENGINE and LWJGL – Lightweight Java Game Library. You can find more information about them … again … from your favorite search engine. (Or I might write about them some day). Android is also build with Java. So you need to learn Java if you wish to make a game for a mobile device that runs Java.

What about Python? You might have learned basics of programming from some course for example with it. Python is very good for many purposes. You can make games with Python. Then you would maybe want to learn about Pygame. There is also a funny library for Python for making games that have ASCII graphics (and only ASCII graphics).

You can choose C and C++ and then you are again going to the direction of using OpenGL for so many things. Have you ever made websites? Then you must be familiar with things like HTML, CSS and JavaScript. This is one way for you to make a game also. You can even use a library like Phaser that is based on JavaScript. You can also make your game with C#. You can also make something out of SQL or databases.

There are also some other ways to make a game that I haven’t yet mentioned here. There is basically tools that are built for making games. So they act like software that you can code and design your game with. Some of these tools are Game Maker Studio, Stencyl and Unity.

We have dealt with programming and 3D modeling. But you need also something else. You need graphics or to say it more precisely you need textures. Textures form the surface to your 3D models so they will look like they were actual objects in actual real world. Or that is their goal since a clever player always recognizes that he or she is playing a game and it’s never a real life situation. But, you need textures, right? Your tools for accomplishing this are free tools like GIMP and/or Paint.net and actual paid software application Photoshop. These tools are powerful and you have to learn to use them if you wish to make a game.

Some graphics can be made from sprites. So animation needs many still pictures that finally form the desired animation. But let’s think that we are building a game with 3D environment so we will stick to using Blender for the purpose.

Okay. What about music? What about sound effects? A good game has a dedicated soundtrack, right? You can make your own music or you can try to contact some independent artists. You can find these artists from SoundCloud or if you can speak in Finnish or at least in English you can try to talk to some artists in Mikseri which is a Finnish platform for releasing songs as mp3s on internet. But those are your options, basically. And music you can also find from YouTube. Try asking from some artist you dig.

You can find lots of sound effects online. You can try Freesound.org for example. Sound effects might be hard to make. It helps if you have a good quality condenser mick. These come nowadays with USB connection and they cost about from forty euros to several thousands. I would myself prefer a good and cheap mic for testing to record something. You can get creative with this. Slice an orange maybe and record that sound. You need to handle the audio clip. So you need skills in using an audio editor like Audacity or any other audio editor.

If you really want to make your own music to be played on the background you need to master some DAW. There are free DAWs, like LMMs, and ones you have to pay to use, like FL Studio or Renoise. There might be free to use demo versions that have some limitations. Some free DAWs I actually haven’t tried to this day are Pro Tools First, Ohm Studio, Cubase LE and Ableton Live Lite. I make my music with FL Studio.

You probably need some instruments. And I mean “virtual instruments”. There are lots of free VST instruments and effects. Some tools come with VST plugins and you can also buy them if you really need. A MIDI keyboard is a good thing to have. So you can make all the melodies with your virtual instruments. It doesn’t hurt if you have samples or if you have a friend that can play some guitar so you have all the diversity that is needed.

You will also need some gear. If you want to record vocals while you are listening to your instrumental at the same time you need headphones. Want to know why? Your voice starts to circulate if you don’t use head phones and you basically don’t want that to happen. You might also want to use monitor speakers. I have spent under 1000 euros for my studio, well if you leave the computer out…But you don’t actually need a super fast computer for making music. You can use your parents desktop really well. Just something that runs your audio software and has some space for your music. And you can buy for example a licence for OneDrive pretty cheaply so you would have 1 terabytes of space.

The last thing, I promise this is last in this long long blog post is about big data. What the f has big data to do with gaming, you might ask. It has every effing to do with today’s gaming. You ever think about how much data is moving in mobile activity all the time. There is also data to move in games. This can be something about how you make your choices in the game or what kind of weather happens to be or what time of the day it is. All this makes games very realsitic. But you know what? It makes them more boring. This is purely my opinion. But keep in your mind that there is a lot going on inside the game when you play it.

 

Assassin’s Creed Series

I have played Assassins Creed for only a bit but I chose to write my next blog post about this whole series. In this series of games games I am most familiar with are the first Assassins Creed and Origins. I lately started playing Origins. I bought it couple of months ago for PS4. It’s a bit sad to think that PS4 isn’t the newest PlayStation console anymore.

Assassins Creed has been around since the first game of the series was released back in 2008. The copy I have is for Xbox 360. I found the first Assassins Creed game to be a nice game. I am not a big fan of open world games. I played this game only for a while. This is a huge series if you think about how many games there have been released in it. Since the first game there has been almost yearly a release. I am also aware that there was also a movie released some time ago.

Assassins Creed Origins takes place in Egypt. This game had a good overall score in Metacritic and I liked the idea of getting more into the series. I find also this game to be nice. You can find that there are areas of gameplay that have been further developed. This game was released in 2017. You are moving in an open world. You can run or ride a camel. You can spot new missions or places as a bird that can fly in the sky. From there you can mark different spots you want to move to. You can also use the map for navigation.

I have played Origins only for about three hours. On “HowLongToBeat” it is said that the main story has about 30 hours of playing. So I’m only at the beginning of this game. As I keep writing these blog posts I am realizing how much time playing games actually takes. I haven’t had so much time for gaming lately as I have had more work and social life recently. Playing games is still one of my favorite ways to pass time and get away from stress. So I am going to keep posting these texts to this blog. And maybe next time I can come up with a good and clever idea for a text.

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!

 

Let’s do some math…

Playing can be very time consuming. I started wondering how many hours have I actually spent playing. How much of my time, or even my life, I have spent enjoying video games. Would it be months? Or years? Why don’t we do some calculations on this.

How many hours is there in a month? One month has 30 days which have 24 hours each. So there is 720 hours in one month. One year has 365 times 24 hours. That means one year has 8760 hours. We can approach this problem by thinking how many games have you completed so we can calculate an approximation of how many months or even years you, the player, has spent playing.

To complete a modern role playing game would require maybe 100 hours. For a shorter action game it would mean that it takes about 15 hours to complete. These games are much shorter than RPGs. Driving games would take propably about 15 hours also. Games like Fallout 4, Final Fantasy series’s games and other games like this take a bit longer to complete.

I think we shouldn’t try to calculate precisely the amount of hours but we can figure out an estimation. In one full month I would play Final Fantasy VII about seven times through. That’s a whole lot of playing. In one year I could play again Final Fantasy VII thorugh over 85 times. This would be a ridiculous amount of time to spend playing.

So the time I have spent playing, in my lifetime, might be somewhere between maybe months or even one year. But I don’t think many gamers come close to maybe two or three years. So these calculations can give you an idea of how much of your time you have actually spent playing in total. There however are much more boring and not so improving things you can spend your time. Playing games is a big part of my life. But you got to remember that there are more important things in life also…

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