Monday, 28 April 2014

A Brief History of video games [PART 3] MOCAP and Minecraft

In the last  post I wrote about the great video game crash of '83 . Despite the setbacks of this crash the video game industry has continued to grow. Video game graphics have moved 2D pixel games to  high polygon 3D games and back again, thanks to independent games.

Modern  motion capture (MOCAP) techniques has allowed games to come extremely close to reality, to the point where many big budget games will use these processes as standard. I never paid much attention to  Motion capture until I plated Beyond Two Souls; A game that revolves around the life of a person called Jodie Holmes who is connected to entity that Jodie calls Aiden, an entity that allows her to preform supernatural feats. Something that struck me when seeing the trailer for this is that Jodie looks a lot like the actress Ellen Page, and that's because she is. In beyond Two souls the motion capture was so prevalent that the  names of the actors the characters are based off of are on the front of the game package, something that's more associated with films. In the 80s large companies would only need a few people to produce their games, now at the higher end of the industry hundreds of people are needed to produce something successful in the current triple A market. With perhaps the exception being more iconic games and characters,that will draw in customers without the need for high poly graphics.

Another noticeable development in recent years is the rise of independent games. The high amount of resources available to people has opened the door to ammeters and professionals alike making games and applications. In some ways I find this a throwback to the 80s where small teams of people (or even one person) came together to make a game, only this time it's working. Independent games are still compelling, even if they don;t have the technology to become high poly. A great example of this is Minecraft a sandbox indie game. Minecraft is an open world game that has no specific goals for the player to accomplish, allowing players a large amount of freedom in choosing how to play the game.With the core game play revolving around breaking and placing blocks, and crafting other items from said blocks. The game world is essentially composed of rough 3D objects (mainly cubes) but is insanely popular none the less.  Now small indie games like Minecraft are keeping the interest and variety in games alive, rather than crashing the whole market. Don't get me wrong, the market is still saturated, there are millions of games new and old out there to play. But a huge difference in games back in the 80s and games now is that now we can digitally download them. Having thousands of games out there isn't as much of an issue when the games don't need to be physically put on disks and into shops. Even games that come in these physical packages now have the option to be bought online and downloaded  (or just downloaded if you're into piratebay.)

So really The current games industry is a mixed bag, with high end motion captured games, small stylised games and everything in between. Which for me is not a bad thing at all. It seems that currently There's something for everyone, because so many types of people have gone in to making games. Something for everyone's being made, and shared either by  the larger game companies funded by past successes, or small independent companies funded by a kick starter. I think there's a danger of the industry at the top of the spectrum coming to a stop in development, as they're already so close realism in their games. Despite this the indie developers will still becoming up with unique low budget, sometimes low poly ideas that work because the game play is still compelling, and at the end of the day that's what gets people to play games, and keeps the industry alive.

Gallegos, Anthony. "Minecraft Review — PC Review at IGN". Retrieved April 25

Joley,Matthew. "Beyond two Souls: Video game review of the week" retrieved April 25

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