COMP 23: Introduction to Game Development

Brief History of Video Games; Game Design Principles

* No good Game Dev course can be without a history lesson
* Shed insight on the progress and significant contributions to
video/computer games...
* ...and perhaps will enlighten you
* sit back and enjoy the ride!

The First Computer/Video Game
1952 - A.S. Douglas of U. Cambridge developed Tic-Tac-Toe for the
Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC), a British

The 60s
The first games were hacked on oscilloscopes and university mainframes.
1962 - Spacewar. Developed at MIT on a PDP-1 (Programmed Data
Processor-1; Digital Equipment); used vector graphics.
1965 - Periscope. Developed by Sega; popularity prompted Sega to ditch
the pinball business and produce more of its own games. See

The 70s
1971 - Computer Space (a Spacewar clone). Developed by Nolan Bushnell
and Ted Dabney; used a regular raster display television set; too ahead
of its time.
1972 - Magnavox Odyssey. The first home video game console developed by
Ralph Baer. A commercial success ($100 a system, 330,000 sold).
1972 - Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney found Atari.
1972 - Pong, the arcade machine (by Atari). Home version released in
1974 - Tank. Developed by Kee Games. The first arcade game to use ROM
1976 - (Colossal Cave) Adventure. The first text-based interactive
fiction game developed by William Crowther and Don Woods on Digital
1976 - Breakout. Prototyped by then Atari employee Steve Jobs (with the
help of friend Steve Wozniak). Jobs "hosed" Wozniak on bonus money from
Atari. Good read:
1977 - Atari 2600 (128 bytes of RAM); Apple introduces the Apple II. 2
million Atari 2600s sold by 1980 --thanks in part to the next game...
1978 - ...Space Invaders. Developed by Taito in Japan.
1979 - Asteroids. Developed by Atari.

The 80s
1980 - Pac-Man. Developed by Namco. Made over $1 billion since its
1980 - Battlezone. Developed by Atari (who was doing $1 billion in
1981 - Many games released: Donkey Kong, Centipede, Ms. Pac-Man,
Galaxian, Tempest.
1982 - Electronic Arts (EA) is founded.
1984 - Apple introduces the Macintosh (birth of the modern computer).
The best-of-times and the worst-of-times: the game industry > $6 billion
in 1981, then Atari sales down 50% in 1981, the game industry < $800
million by 1984.
1985 - Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
1985 - Tetris. Developed in the Soviet Union.
1986 - Sega Master System, Amiga by Commodore (computer), and Atari
1989 - Three major products: Sega Genesis (16-bit console), Nintendo
GameBoy, SimCity (developed by Maxis).
What Sega did right for Genesis: EA sports titles.

The 90s: The Start of the Console Wars
1990 - Super Mario Brothers 3 (NES)
1991 - Super Nintendo (SNES) released. The 16-bit competitor to the Sega
1991 - S3 introduces first single chip graphics accelerator for PC.
1991 - Two major games: Street Fighter II (Capcom) and Wolfenstein 3D
(id Software)
1992 - Goro lives... Mortal Kombat. Developed by Dan Forden, Ed Boon,
and John Tobias at Midway Games.
Nintendo has $7 billion in sales worldwide; Sega and Nintendo consoles
dominate 80% of the computer/video game market.
1993 - Two major games: DOOM (id Software; 2.5D, not true 3D) and Myst
1993 - 7th Guest. First game with full-motion video.
1995 - Windows 95. Make game development significantly easier (DirectX
SDK, plug-and-play).
1995 - Two 32-bit systems released: Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.
1996 - Nintendo 64. Cartridge based system aimed for the younger market.
1996 - Quake (id Software). Real 3D engine; multiplayer online game
1997 - Standardization of 3D acceleration; Pentium II 200 MHz PCs.
1997 - Ultima Online. The first 3D Massive Multiplayer Online Role
Playing Game (MMORPG).
1997 - GoldenEye 007 was released for N64. Apparently, the game was
developed by a team of developers who had never developed a game before.
The renown multiplayer mode was an afterthought!
1997 - Final Fantasy VII was released for PS1.
1998 - The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released for N64.
1999 - Sega Dreamcast released. 128-bit console.

The New Millennium
2000 - The Sims, developed by Maxis and published by EA. The
best-selling PC game of all time (over 16 million copies)
October 26, 2000 - Sony PlayStation 2 released. 128-bit console; 294 MHz
processor ("Emotion Engine"), made software development difficult.
November 2001 - Microsoft XBox released. 128-bit console; Pentium 4 733
MHz processor; DirectX API; hardware is the strength of the system.
Launch title: Halo
November 2001 - Nintendo GameCube released. 128-bit console; IBM Gekko
Processor at 403 MHz; easier software development; cheapest of the three
systems. Over 20 million units sold worldwide as of 2008.
2001 - Grand Theft Auto III. Developed by Rockstar Games.
2004 - Two handheld systems released: Nintendo DS, Sony PlayStation
Portable (PSP)
November 2004 - World of Warcraft released; over 9 million players /
subscriptions worldwide as of 2008
November 2005 - Microsoft XBox 360 released. Custom IBM PowerPC and ATI
Graphics processors. Very powerful hardware.
Problems with overheating
"Red Ring of Death" (hardware failure of some sort)
November 2005 - Guitar Hero I released
November 7, 2006 - Guitar Hero II released
November 17, 2006 - PlayStation 3 (PS3) released. Chaos ensue in lines
at Best Buy stores across America and on eBay.
Supports Blu-ray. An optical disc can hold up to 25 GB or data.
Expensive to produce initially
40 GB or 80 GB hard drive options
November 19, 2006 - Nintendo Wii released. You no longer need good luck
finding one, unlike the past two years!
Originally code-named "Revolution"
Can play NES / SNES / Nintendo 64 / Sega Genesis / TurboGrafx-16 / Neo
Geo games via emulation and download services
No high definition support
April 2007 - Nintendo profits up 77% (thanks WSJ); Wii outsells the PS3
4:1; XBox 360 outsells PS3 2:1
June 2007 - Apple releases the iPhone
July 2007 - Zynga founded
September 2007 - Halo 3 released. Sold over 8 million copies sold
November 2007 - Rock Band released for PS3 and XBox 360 by Harmonix
Music Systems (based in Cambridge, MA)
January 2009 - Apparently, Wii Sports becomes the best-selling game of
all time (that was quick)
November 15, 2009 - 2D lives! New Super Mario Bros. Wii
December 2009 - Rovio Mobile publishes first Angry Birds
April 3, 2010 - Apple iPad
June 24, 2010 - iPhone 4
November 2010 - Microsoft Kinect

Motivation: Why Do We Love Pong?

What is a Game?

What is a Digital Game?

What is Fun?

Game Design Principles


Common Goals in Games

Designing the Gameplay: Making the Fun Happen

Core Mechanics

Designing Core Mechanics

What are the rules and core mechanics of Monopoly?

Game Balance


Uh oh.....Game Design and Gameplay Blunders

Game Genres

The Running List of Popular Genre Nomenclatures

Genre: 2D Space (a.k.a., Shoot 'Em Ups; Arcade)

Genre: Simulation

Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs)

Genre: Interactive Fiction (a.k.a., Adventure, Text-Based or Graphical)

Elements of a Game Design Document

The Importance of a Game Design Document