Tuesday, 30 October 2012

A history of computer games, part one: 1950s - 1970s

Wow 1962 was long before my time. In fact I think before my parent’s time too, but that was when the first computer game “space war” was created. If this is the first time you have heard of it that makes two of us. At a glance it reminds me of games like asteroids and defender but more primitive. I think that’s also due to the fact that technology plays a part in the visual quality of a game. Think about it, if we tried to run uncharted 3 on a PDP-1 it would most likely overheat the processor and explode in a blaze of fire. PDP-1 as a name doesn’t even flow off the tongue nicely, it sounds as complex as the amount of components it takes to make a PDP1, and PDP-1 is short for a “Programmed Data Processor”. Imagine if we gathered friends after school and said let’s play the Programmed Data Processor. I don’t think I would be as interested, but who knows, without the PDP-1 there would be no PS3.

So let’s fast forward 11 years and along come pong. I wasn’t even born and yet I know pong. I could go through the app store today and still find it for sale. I guess it shows the success of the game. Unlike Space War, Pong was the first commercially available game. The graphics are as basic as the ones used in Space War. However the game play must have been far more interesting for it have nostalgic appeal years after its creation. Pong was played in arcades, markets, fun fairs and other entertainment venues. Contrast this to the little known PDP-1 with Space Wars and you can see that good publicity contributes to the overall success of a game. I think that is something that still applies today.

Along with the creation of pong the 1970 see’s the introduction of early household gaming consoles. The Magnavox Odyssey was released in the USA in 1972 and the Atari VCS 2600 released in 1977. Both consoles had reasonable success and paved the way for future gaming consoles. Granted, they weren’t the first recorded gaming console. That was something called the “cathode ray tube amusement device”, even more long winded than the Programmed Data Processor. Whoever created the names must have been thinking practically as opposed to creatively. The names sound like unit designations as opposed to machines designed for entertainment. I guess that’s because games were down to just programmers instead of the vast departments that exist today.

You would think that it was only upwards and onwards from here. Well it wasn’t. In 1977 the market crashed.  This was due to the fact that Atari pong consoles and cheap clones were being sold at a loss. This was being done to clear stock of the obsolete consoles. The result of the sales meant that the newly released Atari and Magnavox consoles suffered significant losses. Thankfully the crash came to an end with the release of “Space Invaders”. The success of the game is similar if not greater than pong which means that I and my generation still know about it.

The good thing about Space Invaders is it inspired many manufacturers to enter the gaming market. This meant that arcade machines became prevalent in mainstream areas thus spawning the golden age of arcade games. The sales of arcade game machines increased in North America significantly, from about $50 million to $900 billion. That is a serious jump and if you were to calculate how much billions were then to now that’s an eye watering total. Technology also improved in this time, colour arcade games were released. This happened in conjunction with titles like Pac-Man and its addictive game play. This meant colour arcade games became quite popular.

As time moved slowly towards the 1980’s home computers began to crop up. This allowed owners to program their own simple games. And soon these games were being distributed through various print channels such as source code printings and newsletters.  Eventually games were distributed in a physical manner with the selling of floppy disks, cassette tapes and ROM cartridges. Those are all the old school ways of distribution, before our days of one click downloads.  Now I’ve actually seen some floppy disks first hand. I was young though so I found the name rather amusing and assumed the disk would literally flop. It doesn’t, it’s called floppy disk because the inside was a thin, flexible, magnetic storage device.

This concludes my little segment on gaming history from the 1950’s-70’s. I hope you enjoyed the read.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Fox's Bones

This is a drawing of a fox's skull and body bones.
This was created using graphite pencils.

Two Point Persepective

A two point perspective drawing near the DMU student union building.
I used only graphite pencil to create this piece.

Single Point Perspective

This is a drawing of a nearby canal. I used a variety of graphite pencils aswell as a graphite stick to create it.

This is some prep work to familiarise myself with single point perspective

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Simple Introduction

Welcome to my little corner of the cosmos. My name is Naim Simeon and I’m a first year student studying Game Art Design at De Montfort University. It has been an interesting few weeks since arrival but I’m managing to balance work and play fairly well. I use my initials NS in my blog name to create the word NSane. This is because I, along with my design work, can be a little crazy at times and I want a name that defines me and my work.

I’m from a small town called Harpenden, which is in Hertfordshire. There I attended Oakland’s college studying Graphic Design. I like graphic design because there’s something clean an efficient about it. Creating interesting pieces of work using colour, typography and layout is something I enjoy still. Just because I want to be a concept artist doesn’t mean I waste the other talents I’ve learned, especially if I can get paid for it *big smile*.

Moving to Leicester wasn’t really a big deal for me but I was definitely excited to be going off to university. Once I arrived I quickly orientated myself with Leicester and attended various fresher’s events. I’m an outgoing person so I like to go clubbing, not only to enjoy myself, but because it’s a place where the creativity of music, fashion and design meet seamlessly.

This brings me to why I chose this course. I have always liked creativity, I like being involved in it and I like viewing others work.  I especially like the creativity within the games industry. The concepts that one can come up with are limited only by their imagination, which allows for some unique, bizarre and downright gorgeous looking games. Games can have some fantastic design and when coupled with artistic wonder the end result is magnificent. I want to be a part of that magnificence and this course seems to be the one to help me reach my aspirations.  By the end of this year I want to be closer to my target of concept artist, with hopefully a first. With those skills I will hopefully end up in my dream job as an art director at a games company like Rockstar.  

Enough about games though you’d think that’s all I think about. Outside of games I like to play multiple sports as well as create music. I also do graphic design work and occasionally some video production. My skills in these fields aren’t as refined as my ability to draw but I still enjoy the recreational aspect, it helps me unwind. I also listen to an eclectic range of music be it Jazz or Dubstep I like a little bit of everything.

So that’s me more or less summed up in a few words. Now all I can think about is the future, the three year veteran version of my noobish self. I cannot tell you what he’s like, but I know that I have to conquer the next three years of stress, late nights and hollering with a first degree. No biggie right?