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"Where games began"

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Sat 04/01/03 at 19:58
Regular
Posts: 787
During the spring of 1962 a group of twentty something computer programmers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent many nights shooting each other with little glowing space topedoes. This came after they gained access to the world's first minicomputer, the DEC PDP-1. Soon after this they set out to create the frist ever computer action game, a game called Space war!

And how better to make use of this state-of-the-art technology, reasoned the all-male group, than to simuate a futuristic dogfight?
Most of the initial programming was undertaken by research student Steve Russel. It took a few months but he had managed to get the PDP-1's cathode ray tube to display two small ships - one rocket shaped, the other was more of a wedge shape - whose 2D movements could be controlled in real time, in front of a background of scattered stars. Each player flicked their switches to rotate left or right, to accelerate and to fire at their opponent. (And now these kind of games are availible on tiny mobile phones!)

Once the game was up and running Russel's friend came up with their own ideas and ways to improve the game. One called Peter samson had an idea which he called 'Expensive Planetarium' which was to replace the random stars with an accurate image of the night sky as seen from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dan Edwards added a large star to the centre of the screen whos grvitational field would sucked players to their deaths.
A guy called Martin Graetz added the 'hyperspace' panic button whcih features in later games such as Asteroids and Defender.

Soon it became apparent that the controls on the main computer console weren.t all that good. Switches got broken easily and it was also easy to hit the wrong button. Alan Kotok and Robert Saunders, model-railway hobbyists put together a couple of wooden switch-control boxes, prototype joypads.

Later on, one of the things to change was the torpedo unreliability, with the reason that real world weapons often function unpredictibly. Russel had programmed the torpedoes to behave slightly erraticly, to add more realism to the game. His friends would have none of this though. Everytime they pressed the fire button they wanted their torpedo to travel at a steady speed in an unerringly straight line. The lesson: that 'realism' should never get in the way of fun.

All this was to become the genetic template of thousends of games to come.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Sat 04/01/03 at 19:58
Regular
Posts: 1,550
During the spring of 1962 a group of twentty something computer programmers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology spent many nights shooting each other with little glowing space topedoes. This came after they gained access to the world's first minicomputer, the DEC PDP-1. Soon after this they set out to create the frist ever computer action game, a game called Space war!

And how better to make use of this state-of-the-art technology, reasoned the all-male group, than to simuate a futuristic dogfight?
Most of the initial programming was undertaken by research student Steve Russel. It took a few months but he had managed to get the PDP-1's cathode ray tube to display two small ships - one rocket shaped, the other was more of a wedge shape - whose 2D movements could be controlled in real time, in front of a background of scattered stars. Each player flicked their switches to rotate left or right, to accelerate and to fire at their opponent. (And now these kind of games are availible on tiny mobile phones!)

Once the game was up and running Russel's friend came up with their own ideas and ways to improve the game. One called Peter samson had an idea which he called 'Expensive Planetarium' which was to replace the random stars with an accurate image of the night sky as seen from Cambridge, Massachusetts. Dan Edwards added a large star to the centre of the screen whos grvitational field would sucked players to their deaths.
A guy called Martin Graetz added the 'hyperspace' panic button whcih features in later games such as Asteroids and Defender.

Soon it became apparent that the controls on the main computer console weren.t all that good. Switches got broken easily and it was also easy to hit the wrong button. Alan Kotok and Robert Saunders, model-railway hobbyists put together a couple of wooden switch-control boxes, prototype joypads.

Later on, one of the things to change was the torpedo unreliability, with the reason that real world weapons often function unpredictibly. Russel had programmed the torpedoes to behave slightly erraticly, to add more realism to the game. His friends would have none of this though. Everytime they pressed the fire button they wanted their torpedo to travel at a steady speed in an unerringly straight line. The lesson: that 'realism' should never get in the way of fun.

All this was to become the genetic template of thousends of games to come.

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