Facts (Video Game Development)

Facts (Video Game Development)

Did You Know?

Minecraft is now the best selling computer / video game of all time.

With over 176,000,000 copies sold since its official launch in 2011, the building and survival game has recently pushed classic puzzle game Tetris into second place. (Tetris has sold around 170,000,000 units since 1984) Grand Theft Auto V is the only other game to have sold over One-Hundred-Million, though comes in at a distant third place!

Minecraft was originally created by Swedish video game developer Markus "Notch" Persson as a project, later founding game company 'Mojang' to support and develop it further. 

Microsoft purchased Mojang and the Minecraft intellectual property (IP) in 2014 for $2.5 billion making Mr Persson a billionaire.

Did You Know?

'FPS' in gaming can mean two different things.

When referring to game's performance, FPS refers to 'Frames Per Second' which indicates how many times a screen is drawn (by the software and game / computer hardware) in one second and is a general indicator of how smooth the action plays out to the gamer or viewer. Video game developers currently aim for between 30 and 60 FPS for an optimum smooth experience.

When used to describe a genre of games, FPS stands for 'First Person Shooter' and refers to games where the screen depicts events through the eyes of the game's protagonist, usually seeing the player's hands and a weapon in the bottom centre of the playing screen, with the rest of the screen showing the game environment. Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Half-Life and Call of Duty are examples of FPS games. (Compare with 'Third-Person' or '3rd Person' shooters where the screen shows the whole body of the player, normally from behind and at a slightly raised angle. Examples include Splatoon, Fortnite and Gears of War)

Did You Know?

Dedicated video (game) arcades began to go into decline around 1984, partly due to market saturation but also because home entertainment devices were beginning to catch up in terms of the experiences they could offer consumers.

The video-arcade industry saw a late resurgence from the early to mid 90s when fighting games revitalised the competitive scene in arcade gaming, and when companies such as SEGA and Namco began to push the envelope for both racing and fighting games, moving from 2D sprite-based games into full, polygonal 3D.

By the turn of the century however, the dedicated video-arcade was largely gone from western countries, though interestingly never really went away in Japan and still enjoy popularity despite the offerings of contemporary home consoles and computers.

Did You Know?

Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov saw very little money from his creation for at least 12 years.

As a computer engineer in the former Soviet Union the rights to his 1984 puzzle game were passed to the government for a ten year period, who began to market the title in 1988. Tetris began to spread around the world, appearing on countless systems and perhaps most notably on the Nintendo 'Game Boy' for it's North American launch in 1989 and in Europe a year later.

Alexey regained control of his creation when the ten years was up - the rights reverted to him and he set up 'The Tetris Company' to manage the property and brand in 1996. To date, Tetris is the second-best selling computer / video game of all time.

Did You know?

Video games nearly went away in the USA. The North American 'Video game crash' of 1983 was a collapse in the video game industry affecting the economy, production and consumption of consoles, arcade machines and their games.

The sheer number of consoles and games on the market, together with poor quality control for software and an unsustainable amount of arcade and amusements centres across the US caused confusion, boredom and frustration in consumers and left manufacturers and publishers unable to shift their stock. Games were hurled into bargain bins across the country as arcades closed down and hardware and software developers pulled out of the industry.

The US$42 billion (estimated) market in 1982, dropped to US$14 billion by 1985, leaving analysts to declare that video games had been a 'fad'. Former industry giants such as Atari were left in disarray, although by the end of 1985 a Japanese company called Nintendo was planning on rebooting the market...

Did You Know?

More than 700,000 copies of Atari's 'E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial ' were buried in a landfill in the US state of New Mexico.

Sometimes unfairly dubbed the worst video game of all time, E.T was developed in only five and half weeks and rushed to market for Christmas 1982, releasing on Atari's 2600 console, also known as the VCS.

A huge marketing campaign focusing on the 'magic' of the Steven Steven Spielberg film ensured great sales, but critical reviews and consumer reactions to the game were negative. E.T. Game cartridges started being returned to shops by unimpressed children and parents and as word got around, it became very difficult to sell copies of the game. Some sources suggest that 3.5 million of the 4 million production run were sent back to Atari as customer returns or unsold inventory from shops.

Rumours of the buried cartridges became an 'urban legend' for decades until a 2014 documentary 'Atari: Game Over' corroborated the story through investigation work and the digging up of some of the cartridges!

Did You Know?

The four ghosts in the original Pac-Man (1980) have distinct behaviours (AI) in order to challenge the player.

The red ghost (Blinky) is the 'Chaser' and follows along behind Pac-Man trying to catch him.
The pink ghost (Pinky) will take routes to try and position itself in front of Pac-Man, so fulfils the role of 'Ambusher'.
The Orange ghost (Clyde) exhibits 'Feigned Ignorance' in that sometimes it wanders off, seemingly at random before switching to the chase-like behaviour of the red ghost.
Finally, the blue ghost (Inky) is 'Fickle' and will exhibit behaviours from all three of its fellow ghosts, making it the most tricky of the lot!

Did You Know?

Arcades and Amusement Centres were once the place to see and play the latest video games. Arcade machines, 'cabinets' or 'coin-ops' cost thousands and were able to deliver entertainment experiences far in advance of any computers and consoles in the home, due to their cutting-edge and custom hardware.

There was a huge boom in the arcade business in the late 70s and early 80s due to the rise in popularity of video games as they took over from more traditional pinball and electro-mechanical novelties. Titles like Pong (1972), Space Invaders (1978) and Pac-Man (1980) were huge and gave rise to dedicated video-arcades and big markets in the USA, Japan and Europe.

Did You Know?

Long before 'Trophies' and 'Achievements', gaming prowess was measured by your 'High Score'.

Taito's Space Invaders released in 1978 was the first video game that allowed players' scores to be saved and therefor be visible to next player. This feature gave rise to competition amongst players to set the new highest score and became a regular feature in future arcade games.

Space Invaders was made by the Japanese Taito Corporation but licensed by Midway in the US. Tapping into the recent 'Star Wars' craze with it's sci-fi theme, the game is often credited with energising the industry and ushering in the 'golden age of arcade video games'.  

Did You Know?

The world's first videogame console was the Magnavox 'Odyssey' - commercially released in 1972.

The system came with coloured plastic overlays that would attach to televisions screens using static electricity, in order to enhance the basic black and white graphics that the machine produced.

Versions of the system were designed and tested by inventor and engineer Ralph Baer from Sanders Associates as early as 1967 and licensed to electronics company Maganvox thereafter.  Mr Baer went on to invent lots of other technical products, including the hugely popular pattern-matching electronic game 'Simon' (sometimes referred to as 'Simon Says') in 1978.

The 'Ping Pong' programme on the Odyssey was seen at a trade fair demonstration by engineer Nolan Bushnell and served as the inspiration for Atari's arcade smash hit 'Pong' later in 1972. 

Did You Know?

The first commercially available videogame was called 'Computer Space' and was released by US arcade game manufacturer Nutting Associates in 1971. It is an adaption of 'Spacewar!' - an earlier game played on university minicomputers computers as early as 1962.  Unable to get the game performing well on expensive minicomputers of the time, the engineers decided to create discrete electronic hardware to run the game and display it via a 15 inch black and white televisions mounted inside the cabinets. 

Computer Space was designed by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney who would go on to release the much more famous 'Pong' from their new company Atari a year later.

Did You Know?

A contender for the first two-player coin-operated video game is 'Galaxy Game' - a prototype arcade computer game developed at Stanford University in the USA.

Students Bill Pitts and Hugh Tuck conceived and built the machine at a cost of US$20,000 in 1971, with the main component being PDP-11 'minicomputer'. Two players seated at the console could play a version of 'Spacewar!' for the cost of 10 cents per game. (Spacewar! being a competitive spaceship computer game that was created in 1962 on a lab computer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

Despite being popular with students, Pitts and Tuck never managed to make the project commercially viable due to the expensive computer equipment required and only two prototypes were made.

The dream of bringing Spacewar! to the masses was arguably achieved the same year by engineers Nolan Bushnel and Ted Dabney when they licensed their own 'Computer Space' machine to arcade machine manufacturer Nutting Associates. Computer Space was a simplified version of Spacewar! using custom electronics rather than a computer. The simpler game could be produced at vastly lower cost than the Stanford machine, though wasn't quite the 'hit' its creators were hoping for. (For that, we need to talk about 'PONG'...)

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