Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Looking to the Past and Preparing for the Future


So I was on a bit of a Retro Game kick (for a while now) and I started looking up some of my favorite older games. One that I had a particular fondness for was Xybots. It was pretty much the father of "first person shooters" and was birthed from the idea of creating a new Gauntlet game in the 3rd dimension. Designer, Ed Logg, was turned down and made Xybots, a sci-fi shooter that had you travel through mazes much like Gauntlet. I always thought it was extremely entertaining and a unique way to simulate polygonal environments (not sure if "3D Games" still means what it used to).

Perhaps that was why I was thinking of Xybots today: because I appreciated its simulation of 3D space. When I first decided I wanted to take up game programming, the question of doing it with polygons was immediately brought up to me. Maybe I thought it sounded too hard for one man to accomplish, but I'd like to think with my art and film hobbies, I might be able to achieve a higher quality than if I were to learn CG modeling and programming. The idea of simulating certain camera effects has fascinated me as long as I can remember. I remember being particularly enamored with the multi-plane effects achieved by Disney as early as "Snow White" as much as the focus pulls and compositing used in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit." Its these type's of effects that I'm interested in attempting in my own game (where necessary).
So I started looking up Xybots when I saw that I actually already owned a copy on my Midway Arcade Treasures 2 disc. Also to my surprise, I owned Rampage World Tour (whose cities are a direct influence on my current game), Gauntlet II, NARC, MKII & III, and a host of others. Delving deeper into the disc, I noticed that certain games had video features discussing the design and choices behind a few of the games (A.P.B., MKIII, NARC, and a couple more). It was fascinating to see the guys that made the games discussing their miniature teams, limited resources, and the mistakes that they've learned on the way. Seeing what they accomplished with so little should be as inspiring as the work coming out by independent developers (in my opinion). I would highly recommend checking to see if you have one of these games laying around or if you can find the video content on Youtube.

On a similar note, I bumped into this video on the history of fatalities. Its in 3 parts (roughly 25 minutes) but its fun to watch and relive a time in gaming that may soon return.

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