Author Archives: Gratian

The Week In Color [11]

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Gaming: Relational Theory And Practice [Part 01]

In these series of articles I will discuss video-games from the first early prototypes and ideas to the modern products. I’ve wanted from some time now to review my list of played games – but since I’ve played too many – it is quite impossible to remember them all – so I will try to research video-games by their releasing year – play some of them in that order and writing articles and short reviews.

The term video game has evolved over the decades from a purely technical definition to a general concept defining a new class of interactive entertainment. Technically, for a product to be a video game, there must be a video signal transmitted to a cathode ray tube (CRT) that creates a rasterized image on a screen. This definition would preclude early computer games that outputted results to a printer or teletype rather than a display, any game rendered on a vector-scan monitor, any game played on a modern high definition display, and most handheld game systems. From a technical standpoint, these would more properly be called “electronic games” or “computer games”.

Today, however, the term “video game” has completely shed its purely technical definition and encompasses a wider range of technology. While still rather ill-defined, the term “video game” now generally encompasses any game played on hardware built with electronic logic circuits that incorporates an element of interactivity and outputs the results of the player’s actions to a display. Going by this broader definition, the first video games appeared in the early 1950s and were tied largely to research projects at universities and large corporations.

1947 – Cathode-ray Tube Amusement Device

The cathode-ray tube amusement device is the earliest known interactive electronic game. The device simulates an artillery shell arcing towards targets on a cathode ray tube (CRT) screen, which is controlled by the player by adjusting knobs to change the trajectory of a CRT beam spot on the display in order to reach plastic targets overlaid on the screen. Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr. and Estle Ray Mann constructed the game from analog electronics and filed for a patent in 1947, which was issued the following year. The gaming device was never manufactured or marketed to the public, so it had no effect on the future video game industry. Under most definitions, the device is not considered a video game, as while it had an electronic display it did not run on a computing device. Therefore, despite its relevance to the early history of video games, it is not generally considered a candidate for the title of the first video game.

1950 – Bertie The Brain

Bertie the Brain was an early computer game, and one of the first games developed in the early history of video games. It was built in Toronto by Josef Kates for the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition. The four meter tall computer allowed exhibition attendees to play a game of tic-tac-toe against an artificial intelligence. The player entered a move on a lit keypad in the form of a three-by-three grid, and the game played out on a grid of lights overhead. The machine had an adjustable difficulty level. After two weeks on display by Rogers Majestic, the machine was disassembled at the end of the exhibition and largely forgotten as a curiosity.

Kates built the game to showcase his additron tube, a miniature version of the vacuum tube, though the transistor overtook it in computer development shortly thereafter. Patent issues prevented the additron tube from being used in computers besides Bertie before it was no longer useful. Bertie the Brain is a candidate for the first video game, as it was potentially the first computer game to have any sort of visual display of the game. It appeared only three years after the 1947 invention of the cathode-ray tube amusement device, the earliest known interactive electronic game to use an electronic display. Bertie’s use of light bulbs rather than a screen with real-time visual graphics, however, much less moving graphics, does not meet some definitions of a video game.

1952 – OXO

OXO or Noughts and Crosses is a video game developed by A S Douglas in 1952 which simulates a game of noughts and crosses. It was one of the first games developed in the early history of video games. Douglas programmed the game as part of a thesis on human-computer interaction at the University of Cambridge.

It was written on the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC). EDSAC was one of the first stored-program computers, with memory that could be read from or written to, and had three small cathode ray tube screens to display the state of the memory; Douglas re-purposed one screen to demonstrate portraying other information to the user, such as the state of a noughts and crosses game. After the game served its purpose, it was discarded on the original hardware but later successfully reconstructed.

OXO, along with a draughts game by Christopher Strachey completed around the same time, is one of the earliest known games to display visuals on an electronic screen. Under some definitions, it thus may qualify as the first video game, though other definitions exclude it due to its lack of moving or real-time updating graphics.

You can play a modern version of this game right directly into your browser – if you use Mozilla.

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1958 – Tennis For Two

Tennis for Two (also known as Computer Tennis) is a sports video game, which simulates a game of tennis, and was one of the first games developed in the early history of video games. American physicist William Higinbotham designed the game in 1958 for display at the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s annual public exhibition after learning that the government research institution’s Donner Model 30 analog computer could simulate trajectories with wind resistance. He designed the game, displayed on an oscilloscope and played with two custom aluminum controllers, in a few hours, after which he and technician Robert V. Dvorak built it over three weeks. The game’s visuals show a representation of a tennis court viewed from the side, and players adjust the angle of their shots with a knob on their controller and try to hit the ball over the net by pressing a button.

The game was very popular during the three-day exhibition, with players lining up to see the game, especially high school students. It was shown again the following year with a larger oscilloscope screen and a more complicated design that could simulate different gravity levels. It was then dismantled and largely forgotten until the late 1970s when Higinbotham testified in court about the game during lawsuits between Magnavox and Ralph H. Baer over video game patents. Since then, it has been celebrated as one of the earliest video games, and Brookhaven has made recreations of the original device. Under some definitions Tennis for Two is considered the first video game, as while it did not include any technological innovations over prior games, it was the first computer game to be created purely as an entertainment product rather than for academic research or commercial technology promotion.

A replica of the game can be found on Scratch.  Instead of using a proper screen (raster display device) it would send an electrical signal to an oscilloscope – a wave display device. If you want to play you have to move the mouse around the knob to aim and click to hit the ball in he direction the knob is pointing – if it is on your side of the net (which is the right side).

tft1962 – Marienbad

Marienbad was a 1962 Polish puzzle mainframe game created by Elwro engineer Witold Podgórski in Wrocław, Poland for its Odra 1003. It was an adaption of the logic game nim. Inspired by the discussion in the magazine Przekrój of a variant of nim in the 1961 film Last Year at Marienbad (L’Année dernière à Marienbad), named “Marienbad” by the magazine, Podgórski programmed the game for the in-development 1003 mainframe, released in 1963. The game had players opposing the computer in alternating rounds of removing matches from a set, with the last player to take a match the loser. As the computer always played the optimal moves, it was essentially unbeatable.

Like many games in the early history of video games, Marienbad did not spread far beyond the initial location. Elwro did not produce or advertise the game, though Podgórski recreated it at the Wojskowa Akademia Techniczna (Military University of Technology in Warsaw). The game fell into obscurity, with no pictures or documentation surviving to recreate it in its original form; as there is only one known Odra 1003 remaining and no way of recreating the game exists, it is considered lost. Despite its simplicity, it is considered possibly the first Polish computer or video game.

You can play this game with a modern interface on Kongretate – Game Of Marienbad.

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1962 – Spacewar!

Spacewar! is a space combat video game developed in 1962 by Steve Russell, in collaboration with Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen, and programmed by Russell with assistance from others including Bob Saunders and Steve Piner. It was written for the newly installed DEC PDP-1 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After its initial creation, Spacewar was expanded further by other students and employees of universities in the area, including Dan Edwards and Peter Samson. It was also spread to many of the few dozen, primarily academic, installations of the PDP-1 computer, making Spacewar the first known video game to be played at multiple computer installations.

The game features two spaceships, “the needle” and “the wedge”, engaged in a dogfight while maneuvering in the gravity well of a star. Both ships are controlled by human players. Each ship has limited fuel for maneuvering and a limited number of torpedoes, and the ships follow Newtonian physics, remaining in motion even when the player is not accelerating. Flying near the star to provide a gravity assist was a common tactic. Ships are destroyed when hit by a torpedo or colliding with the star. At any time, the player can engage a hyperspace feature to move to a new, random location on the screen, though each use has an increasing chance of destroying the ship instead. The game was initially controlled with switches on the PDP-1, though Alan Kotok and Bob Saunders built an early gamepad to reduce the difficulty and awkwardness of controlling the game.

Spacewar is one of the most important and influential games in the early history of video games. It was extremely popular in the small programming community in the 1960s and was widely ported to other computer systems at the time. It has also been recreated in more modern programming languages for PDP-1 emulators. It directly inspired many other electronic games, such as the first commercial arcade video games, Galaxy Game and Computer Space (1971), and later games such as Asteroids (1979). In 2007, Spacewar was named to a list of the ten most important video games of all time, which formed the start of the game canon at the Library of Congress.

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A simulation of this game can be found on Masswerk – Spacewar Game.

Lists. Collectibles. Geekness.

For my part in this allegory I will say that I’ve been working on some lists with all the movies and anime series I’ve watched so far. Next is a list of games I’ve played since I was born.. because apparently I was born with a gamepad attached to my hands and with a desire to level up my character and re-battle this dungeon’s enemies.

I’ve watched 74 anime series from what I could remember which I’ve also finished. I know there are many more titles which I haven’t finished but I will not count these. As for movies – I used to write down names of movies in notebooks. This list of 547 movies is also incomplete because I’ve certainly watched more movies. I know there is a list on IMDb with a million titles which could help me add titles to my list.

As for the gaming lists – I’ve played games on NES systems, PS4, PC, Phone, Tablet – I’ve played like half of my life up until now. The longest personal gaming session was two weeks in which I slept like 2 hours a day.. finished 16 games :)).

And today I went through my collection of collectibles. I’ve gathered stuff related to Assassin Creed, Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon (my favorite fantasy world), The Legend of Zelda, Bioshock, Metro 2033, Mario, World of Warcraft, Magic the Gathering, Naruto and many more. I’ve got books, sticker collections, trading cards, figures, wallets, pamphlets, albums, key chains, badges, board games and an inner desire to get some more. Next on my list are some Pokemon books, Minecraft stuff, a Nintendo 2DS and a classic NES console.

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Nintendo, 129 Of History and FanArt Trends

Nintendo celebrated its 129th birthday. The company that brought life to Mario and Zelda and to Pokemon started as a producer of handmade hanafuda playing cards. It was first established in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi.

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Regarding the hanafuda playing cards – there are twelve suits, representing months. Each is designated by a flower, and each suit has four cards. Typically, each suit will have two normal cards and two special cards. The point values could be considered unnecessary and arbitrary, as the most popular games only concern themselves with certain combinations of taken cards.

In 1889, Fusajiro Yamauchi founded Nintendo Koppai for the purposes of producing and selling hand-crafted Hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark. Though it took a while to catch on, soon the Yakuza began using Hanafuda cards in their gambling parlors, and card games became popular in Japan again.

Today, despite its focus on video games, Nintendo still produces the cards in Japan, including a special edition Mario themed set previously available through Club Nintendo. This is mostly in recognition of its own company history, rather than specifically for profit. In 2006, Nintendo published Clubhouse Games (42 All-Time Classics in the United Kingdom) for the Nintendo DS, which included the Koi-Koi game which is played with Hanafuda cards.

There has been released also a book about the history of the company – presenting known and unknown facts about the Nintendo’s works – hundreds of cards, toys and board games developed even before Nintendo entered the video game industry.

l-histoire-de-nintendo-vol1

Title: The Story of Nintendo Vol.1
Subtitle: 1889-1980 Playing Cards at Game & Watch
Author: Florent Gorges
With the collaboration of: Isao Yamazaki, 
Erik Voskuil and Fabrice Heilig
Edition: 3rd edition
Pagination: 276 color pages
Format: A5
ISBN: 978-2-919603-40-4
EAN: 9782919603404
Official release: 15/11/2017

After experimenting with other types of businesses like cab services or love hotels, Nintendo finally found that it could have success as a consumer electronics and video game company.

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On Nintendo’s official site – in the Company’s history section there are descriptions to all the released consoles by Nintendo over the years.

Nintendo Entertainment System

Introduced in 1985, the NES was an instant hit. Over the course of the next two years, it almost single-handedly revitalized the video game industry. Selling over 60 million units, people brought games like Mario and Zelda into their homes for the first time on the NES.

Game Boy

The screen was four-colors-of-gray but the device defined portable gaming and was enormous fun. Game Boy, which came out in 1989, was closely associated with the classic game Tetris when it debuted. Game Boy is the most successful video game system ever released. Since its introduction in 1989, Game Boy has sold well over 150 million systems worldwide. Originally bundled with the game, Tetris, this little handheld became an instant phenomenon.

Super Nintendo Entertainment System

The SNES was released in 1991 and featured 16-bit technology. More processing power meant more entertaining games which helped the SNES sell more than 49 million systems worldwide.

Nintendo 64

The N64 set new standards in realistic 3D gaming when it came out in 1996. Super Mario 64 was the system’s showcase game and thrilled millions with its amazing graphics and gameplay.

Game Boy Pocket

The same year the N64 came out, the Game Boy Pocket found its way into gamers’ school backpacks all over the world. It was smaller than the original Game Boy and came in a variety of colors.

Game Boy Advance

Featuring a larger screen and better graphics than previous versions of the Game Boy, the GBA would go on to sell tens of millions of units worldwide after its North American debut in 2001.

Nintendo GameCube

2001 also saw the release of the Nintendo GameCube which one-upped the graphics and gameplay of the N64. It was the first Nintendo system to use optical discs instead of cartridges for its games.

Game Boy Advance SP

Released in 2003, the Game Boy Advance SP had the same size screen as the Game Boy Advance, but the GBA SP was dramatically smaller, lighter, and folded in a clamshell design to become truly pocket portable. It also featured a rechargeable battery and backlit screen.

Nintendo DS

Featuring two screens, including a touch screen, a microphone, built-in Wi-Fi capability, and backward compatibility, the DS is an incredibly successful portable gaming device beating its rivals in the marketplace by a wide margin.

Nintendo DS Lite

The Nintendo DS is smaller, lighter, and has brighter screens than the previous model and has been embraced by fans. Tens of millions of DS Lites have sold worldwide since its release in early 2006.

Wii

In 2006, Nintendo introduced the Wii and with it several advanced, revolutionary features. Wireless motion-sensitive remote controllers, built-in Wi-Fi capability, and a host of other features have made the Wii the best-selling latest generation console system in the world.

Nintendo DSi

In April, Nintendo DSi introduced a revised portable system with two cameras and wireless access to downloadable games via the Nintendo DSi Shop. Wii Sports Resort built on the Wii Sports phenomenon and included the new Wii MotionPlus accessory, which made motion controls even more precise. Wii Fit Plus brought new options and activities to the fitness software and New Super Mario Bros. Wii brought the hand-held game to the home console. The Nintendo DS family of systems set a new all-time calendar-year U.S. sales record for any console or hand-held system.

Nintendo DSi XL

Nintendo DSi XL debuted with screens that were 93 percent larger than those on Nintendo DS Lite. Nintendo and Netflix announced a partnership that would allow most Netflix subscribers to stream movies and TV shows directly through their Wii consoles. The American Heart Association and Nintendo of America formed a multifaceted strategic relationship aimed at helping people create healthy lifestyles through physically active play. The iconic American Heart Association brand appeared on boxes for the Wii Fit Plus and Wii Sports Resort software and for the Wii system itself. Super Mario Galaxy 2 was just as well-received and well-reviewed as the original, Metroid: Other M took the franchise in a new direction and Donkey Kong Country Returns revisited a classic franchise. The Wii Games: Summer 2010 competition brought thousands of people of all ages together in fun competitions.

Nintendo 3DS

In 2011, Nintendo launched the Nintendo 3DS system in North America, and for the first time ever, users could view and play 3D content without special 3D glasses. The Mii Maker™ app let players create their own Mii™ characters to use as virtual avatars, while the online gaming community known as Miiverse™ let users connect with Nintendo fans around the world.

Wii U

Released in 2012, the Wii U™ system included the innovative Wii U GamePad controller that offered users new ways to play together, including off-TV. Wii U was the first Nintendo system to play new games in HD, while remaining backwards compatible with Wii™ games. This system also introduced support for amiibo™ accessories, figures and cards that gave players in-game bonuses in compatible games.

Nintendo 2DS

The Nintendo 2DS™ system joined the Nintendo 3DS™ family in North America in 2013. Its form factor, features, and price made it an excellent option for young gamers. The system played the Nintendo 3DS games only in 2D.

New Nintendo 3DS XL

In 2015, Nintendo released the New Nintendo 3DS XL system in North America. The system offered super-stable face-tracking 3D and screens that were almost twice as large as those of Nintendo 3DS. Built-in amiibo support meant players could more easily tap in amiibo accessories to get bonus in-game content in compatible games.

Nintendo Switch

Released in 2017, the Nintendo Switch™ is a home console that can transition seamlessly to a portable handheld that gamers can enjoy anywhere. The included Joy-Con™ controllers attach to the console while in handheld mode, and can be removed and used separately with compatible games in TV or tabletop modes. The system’s features include built-in amiibo support, motion controls and HD Rumble to makes games more immersive, and the Nintendo Switch Online* service.

New Nintendo 2DS XL

The New Nintendo 2DS XL system debuted in 2017 with screens that are 82% percent larger than the screens for Nintendo 2DS. The system offers customers the power and features of the New Nintendo 3DS XL system in a streamlined, affordable package, and plays a huge library of Nintendo 3DS games in 2D only.

The most popular video-game titles released could be stated: Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, Duck Hunt, The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy, Double Dragon, Metroid , SimCity, Killer Instinct, Bomber Man, Pokemon, Fire Emblem, Fatal Frame, Bayonetta.

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For a more completed list you can follow the link – List Of Nintendo Games.

And since this celebration occurred – fans of the massively popular Mario Universe created a new character – Princess Bowser – depicting the series villain in a different gender and linking its origins to the Mario stories. Twitter has been boiling with fan-arts and discussion about this new character all day long.

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Image submitted by pixiv.net user – 新米(アッテンボローP).

So – who doesn’t remember what it was like to stay up late to finish the Mario game and it’s 99999 variations from the recently purchased cartridge? The feeling of anger when that dog laughed at you for not shooting the ducks… The feeling of starting a new game of Pokemon Red, the tenacity when thugs ganged up against you in Double Dragon and the old master wasn’t there to aid you… The laughs when someone died because of a stupid mistake in Bomber Man or… The deliciously relaxing tunes from Final Fantasy?

Nintendo helped creating these memories and priceless moments from our childhoods.

The Week In Color [09]

Today I had coffee with my girl in one of the parks our city has to offer. Among the cold and pleasant atmosphere, the quietness of the place and the songs of the birds we had the chance to explore the palette of colors that autumn has brought.

We also gathered some materials and build “un plateau de couleurs” for us, to remember the beauty of our favorite season.