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Discovery Channel's Games Documentary Impresses 87

Posted by Zonk
from the not-the-usual-pablum dept.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun notes the kickoff of a new Discovery channel series called Rise of the Videogame. Blogger John Walker discusses the show, which just began last week, with an eye towards its research rigor and friendliness to the subject matter. He comes away fairly impressed, both by the topics covered and the casting. Along with games industry luminaries like Nolan Bushnell and Al Alcorn, they chat with folks like Steve Russell (of Spacewar! fame) and Smartbomb author Heather Chaplin. "A little visually overwrought with its montage footage of real-world conflict, it's otherwise a solid, informative and supremely well 'cast' documentary. If you've read around the subject, it won't tell you anything new. But it's fantastic to hear the stories from the people themselves. Episode 2 is very sensibly about the rise of Mario, next Wednesday."
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Discovery Channel's Games Documentary Impresses

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  • I'd buy this for Christmas if I could, but it looks like I'll have to wait a bit. Only four more episodes - have to make sure I don't miss those, they all sound pretty interesting. And I'd like to see how it compares to Video Game Invasion [amazon.com].
  • by bconway (63464) on Monday November 26, 2007 @01:57PM (#21481407) Homepage
    Since it looks like Discovery isn't replaying the previous episodes imminently (judging by their site's listings), a torrent of the first episode in good quality is available here [mininova.org].
    • It's actually the same as "I, Videogames" from what I read and seen. Watch the first episode on YouTube with its five parts (about 45 minutes in total; has foreign subtitles) on YouTube [youtube.com]: 1 [youtube.com], 2 [youtube.com], 3 [youtube.com], 4 [youtube.com], and 5 [youtube.com]. I didn't see other episodes online though. It's a good series though.
  • How long... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by lstellar (1047264)
    Before the 'main stream' accepts video gaming as here, now and legitimate. I don't see many "Rise of Books" or "Rise of Pro Football" segments. That being said, having watched the episode, it comes highly recommended.
    • I think that they are becoming more mainstream all the time - but you answer your own question asking about books and football. Gutenburg had his press in the 1400s. Professional football has been around since the 1800s. Video games have only been around for 40 years or so.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by i7dude (473077)
      Before the 'main stream' accepts video gaming as here, now and legitimate. I don't see many "Rise of Books" or "Rise of Pro Football" segments.

      I think "Rise of Books" was pretty well covered in "Human History."

      dude.
    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      Before the 'main stream' accepts video gaming as here, now and legitimate. I don't see many "Rise of Books" or "Rise of Pro Football" segments. That being said, having watched the episode, it comes highly recommended.

      I don't think 'main stream' has anything to do with it; it's age. "Rise of Books" books are rare because books have been around for a long time, and there's not much new in the space. As for "Rise of Pro Football" there are quite a few books on pro football history.

  • My humble 2 cents... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:00PM (#21481469) Homepage Journal
    I've been watching these documentaries since weeks ago... (note that I live in Mexico).

    They're fabulous. I watch them and fondly remember the old times. I specially liked the chapter about hobbyists who made games for the Commodore 64, and I remember the Compute! and RUN magazines.

    Those discovery documentaries are an eye-opener which shows you the social causes and effects of videogames (generational breachs, the influence of the WWII and the Cold war in the first videogames).

    What can I say? I liked them all. From the first hobbyists and pong, to the walks of Miyamoto in the japanese forests reflected in Zelda and Mario, to the rise of FPS and games with protagonists.

    I really recommend that show to everyone.
    • Good times when the hardware was limited and the focus was in the game itself, not only in the graphics as we see in lots of games nowadays.
      • by nschubach (922175) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:33PM (#21481869) Journal
        Yeah, damn them video games and their video capability... Why don't people just go back to good old fashioned board games. Who needs fancy graphics!?
        • by StopKoolaidPoliticsT (1010439) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:45PM (#21482051)
          The problem the parent eludes to is that many developers think graphics are more important than the game. Graphics are nice, but if the game sucks, a polished turd is still a turd. I'd rather play a great game with decent graphics than a mediocre game that awes me with shiny for the 30 minutes I play until I decide that it sucks.
          • The problem the parent eludes to is that many developers think graphics are more important than the game. Graphics are nice, but if the game sucks, a polished turd is still a turd. I'd rather play a great game with decent graphics than a mediocre game that awes me with shiny for the 30 minutes I play until I decide that it sucks.

            Graphics are one part of a whole. Very few successful games take the route you mentioned. Heavenly sword looks very good, but it's also a pretty decent brawler; Gears of war was gorgeous, and was a fun third person shooter; Ratchet and Clank future:TOD was really good looking, and an awesome combat platformed.

            Where is this mythical "graphics before gameplay" game that sold really well? Madden 08? Lair (hahaha sells well? haha)? Halo 3 (if you call terrible normal/bump maps looking good)?

            Almost any game on

            • by genner (694963)
              6 hours of game play does not make a decent brawler.
              Heavenly Sword is little more than a pretty tech demo.

              FYI DEFCON has sad graphics and is still being quite profitable and winning several awards.
              • 6 hours of game play does not make a decent brawler.
                Heavenly Sword is little more than a pretty tech demo.

                You obvious haven't played it. 6h was a number a reviewer threw out, but skipping every cut scene and every optional pat and playing the game perfectly to kill everything first try in the shortest time 6h might be about right. It took me personally 15h over 3 weeks, which places it with most other brawler games. It lacks that filler many games have (ala Halo, back track through the level again).

            • by yodleboy (982200)
              yeah, i'm gonna have to agree with this. I don't buy many games each year, but i DO get the A-list titles (CoD4,Crysis,BioShock etc.) and they really do try to balance these things. Where you start seeing the crap games where eye candy takes over is in those 2nd tier games. Every time i try out one of them i can't stand it and vow never again. usually that's good until it's been 3 months since the last a-list game and i'm getting bored. I can't even remember the names of examples, but i've got a stack o
              • HEY NOW! DOOM3 had no more story than DOOM and that's ok. I don't think ANYONE expects more from the DOOM series.
                ehhe, the complaint was that doom 3 wasn't very gameplay focused not story :D. I liked it but it did depend heavily on the "pop something out of dark places" mechanic a bit too much. Most people call it a tech demo since story is required nowadays.
            • by LKM (227954)

              Graphics are one part of a whole. Very few successful games take the route you mentioned. Heavenly sword looks very good, but it's also a pretty decent brawler; Gears of war was gorgeous, and was a fun third person shooter; Ratchet and Clank future:TOD was really good looking, and an awesome combat platformed.

              See, I think these games actually show that graphics alone can't make a game. HS was a "decent brawler", but it was only a decent brawler, and it was over after 6 hours. It didn't really offer anything other than great graphics and incredible cut-scenes.

              I'll say that GoW did combine innovation and graphics, so I won't argue with this one; but R&C? Really? In my opinion, it's not an awesome platformer. It's an average, linear shooter and a crappy platformer. Its gameplay just can't keep up with its gr

              • See, I think these games actually show that graphics alone can't make a game. HS was a "decent brawler", but it was only a decent brawler, and it was over after 6 hours. It didn't really offer anything other than great graphics and incredible cut-scenes.

                I'll say that GoW did combine innovation and graphics, so I won't argue with this one; but R&C? Really? In my opinion, it's not an awesome platformer. It's an average, linear shooter and a crappy platformer. Its gameplay just can't keep up with its graphics.

                You really didn't play HS did you? Every who bounds about the 6h figure is actually quoting from 1 source. The game is longer then that, a bit shorter then halo 3 but much longer then 6h. R&T is extremely open. Linear shooter does not describe it. Each level is about 1/2 hidden secrets and every other level has 2 or more ways around or has goals that you can per sue as you please. Did you actually play it or did you just read a review?

                I think that's kind of the point: Most of these games don't sell really well, yet devs keep on making them because even though they don't sell well, it's still less risk than innovating with gameplay and risking a total bomb.

                As for the "gameplay before graphics" games: Wii Sports. I think that game alone shows that games (and even consoles) can sell on gameplay alone.

                Wii sports does sell wii's. To non gamers. The idea that major franchises will move there is the reason gamers go there.

                • by LKM (227954)

                  You really didn't play HS did you? Every who bounds about the 6h figure is actually quoting from 1 source.

                  The lacking playtime was mentioned in pretty much all reviews. And I did play it; i just didn't finish it. I don't own it (I'm not going to pay full price for a six-hours-game), a friend of mine does.

                  The game is longer then that, a bit shorter then halo 3 but much longer then 6h.

                  I also didn't buy Halo 3 (in my opinion, it's a pretty crappy FPS compared to stuff like CoD4), but in its defense, people mainly buy that for the online component, which does provide dozens of hours of entertainment, and which HS does not have.

                  R&T is extremely open.

                  I'm guessing you mean "extremely open" as in "more than one

                  • The lacking playtime was mentioned in pretty much all reviews. And I did play it; i just didn't finish it. I don't own it (I'm not going to pay full price for a six-hours-game), a friend of mine does.

                    So your speculating and spreading mis information. The game is short. But no shorter then it's peers. Many games have been getting shorter. Ala Halo 3. However this may nto be a bad thing because halo 3 and HS simply lacked the filler you find in other similar games like halo 1.

                    I also didn't buy Halo 3 (in my opinion, it's a pretty crappy FPS compared to stuff like CoD4), but in its defense, people mainly buy that for the online component, which does provide dozens of hours of entertainment, and which HS does not have.

                    It really depends if you're an online gamer or not. My GF's brother bought it and I finished it with him. He just wanted to finish the story. He never played it again.

                    I'm guessing you mean "extremely open" as in "more than one path," not as in "I see that sky scraper over there, so I can go there." I want the second.

                    Yeah, that's what I thought. But in my opinion, "more than one way around" does not a non-linear game make.

                    That is a silly complaint. You want a different game genre. Platformers aren't necessarily sand box games. If you played it for a few stages in you'd hit section where it almost is a sandbox games. the levels are huge. Not many platformers are as open as you implied you want. In fact off the top of my head I can't think of one. Crash bandicoot? no. Mario 64? no. Mario Galaxy? no. Sonic? no. Ico? maybe. I think you really want GTA or crackdown.

                    I don't quite understand the distinction between "people who play Wii sports" and "gamers." Aren't people who play Wii Sports - and even buy a console for the privilege - gamers by definition? I'm not entirely sure what your point is: Are you saying that people who previously owned other consoles can't appreciate Wii Sports?

                    There is a quantitative difference between gaming hobbyists. Gamers. and Casual gamers. NDP did a study, found "Gamers" still represent more money even though there are mroe casual gamers. It really comes down to how much time people play and how much money they spend. For instance my sister will play wii sports but nothing else. Not mario party not nintendogs, nothing. she is a casual gamer. Her purchases won't exceed wii sports and perhaps a sequel or a clone.

                    • by LKM (227954)

                      The lacking playtime was mentioned in pretty much all reviews. And I did play it; i just didn't finish it. I don't own it (I'm not going to pay full price for a six-hours-game), a friend of mine does.

                      So your speculating and spreading mis information.

                      What part of "The lacking playtime was mentioned in pretty much all reviews." did you not understand? Maybe it took you 7 hours to finish the game. Maybe it took you 10 hours. It doesn't really matter; it's still too short a game.

                      The game is short. But no shorter then it's peers. Many games have been getting shorter. Ala Halo 3.

                      Again, people buy Halo 3 for the online component. If your girlfriend's brother bought the game for the single-player mode, whether the game is long enough or not is his judgment to make. It would be too short for me. The fact that Halo 3 has a short single-player mode in no w

                    • What part of "The lacking playtime was mentioned in pretty much all reviews." did you not understand? Maybe it took you 7 hours to finish the game. Maybe it took you 10 hours. It doesn't really matter; it's still too short a game.

                      15h two shy of how long it took me and my Gf's brother to finish Halo 3.

                      Have you even played Mario 64? The game is entirely open. You enter a level, and you're free to go wherever you want. The whole level is open to you. There's no comparison to something like R&C, where you follow a narrow path. None at all.

                      Yes indeed i have. The levels are 1 way to a first goal and multiple ways to extra goals. Ratchet and blank is similar. However it doesn't seem you've played much of R&T or at all. Exploration is a large part of the game. The number of levels in mario 64 is greater, the size of the levels in R&T f is generally greater.

                      I'm not sure if you're lying or if you're not remembering this correctly. Here's a link to an article about the study. To quote:

                      "Heavy gamers make up only 3% of the gaming population"

                      Obviously each "heavy gamer" buys way more games than the other market segments, but even taking this into account, heavy gamers are a small part of the market in terms of total money spent.

                      here [npd.com] is the press release for the actual report. That ~2% out spends other market segments. 7:1 to "avid gam

                    • by LKM (227954)

                      Have you even played Mario 64? The game is entirely open. You enter a level, and you're free to go wherever you want. The whole level is open to you. There's no comparison to something like R&C, where you follow a narrow path. None at all.

                      Yes indeed i have. The levels are 1 way to a first goal and multiple ways to extra goals.

                      That is actually not true. You can get to the first star however you want, too. There's no path in any of the levels (apart from very few, like the sledding levels). For some obstacles, there's only one way to negotiate them, but most of the time, you can find your own path to the star.

                      I'm not sure if you're lying or if you're not remembering this correctly. Here's a link to an article about the study. To quote: "Heavy gamers make up only 3% of the gaming population" Obviously each "heavy gamer" buys way more games than the other market segments, but even taking this into account, heavy gamers are a small part of the market in terms of total money spent.

                      here [npd.com] is the press release for the actual report. That ~2% out spends other market segments. 7:1 to "avid gamers". they did not list a stat in the free release about "casual" gamers. It's safe to assume it is less then avid gamers.

                      That evaluates to 14% of the actual money spent. As I've said, heavy gamers are a small part of the market in terms of total money spent. Comparing the "Mass Market Gamers" (which I guess is NPD's term for casual gamers)

                    • original

                      There is a quantitative difference between gaming hobbyists. Gamers. and Casual gamers. NDP did a study, found "Gamers" still represent more money even though there are more casual gamers.

                      That evaluates to 14% of the actual money spent. As I've said, heavy gamers are a small part of the market in terms of total money spent. Comparing the "Mass Market Gamers" (which I guess is NPD's term for casual gamers) to the heavies gives the following picture: 2%x13 games = 26 for the heavies (I'm not going to normalize this); 15%x2 games = 30 for the casuals. So the casuals buy more games than the heavies according to this study; and that doesn't even include "casual kids."

                      Actually heavy gamers, avid gamers and "mass market gamers" would be the gaming hobbyists I was refering to. The casual ones are the secondary gamers and casual kids. which are abotu 30% numerically but far lower economically. If you was you who singled out "heavy gamers" to represent hobbyists, not I nor NDP.

                      Secondary gamers make up 22% and casual kids 8%. Anyone who spends ~10 hours a week on something can be reasonably be called a hobbyist in that something. But we're diving into meaning sema

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by nschubach (922175)
            My question to you... Why do "Mario-like platformers" fail in today's market then? I mean, if it was so awesome then, why wouldn't a direct clone with more levels/power-ups sell better today if you didn't change the graphics one bit? Even Nintendo improves the graphics and adds more content. If they released Ultra Mega Mario X today with the same graphics as Super Mario World and only added content to the game, it would flop. Or maybe you prefer to look at Asteroids? If you were to release an epic 300
            • Why do "Mario-like platformers" fail in today's market then?

              They don't. New Super Mario Bros is one of the best-selling Mario titles of all times.

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "The problem the parent eludes to is that many developers think graphics are more important than the game. Graphics are nice, but if the game sucks, a polished turd is still a turd. I'd rather play a great game with decent graphics than a mediocre game that awes me with shiny for the 30 minutes I play until I decide that it sucks."

            I gotta agree. I know I am an old timer, especially with respect to video games, but, I go 100% with you on the importance of game play. To this day, I still think the best and

          • by Kingrames (858416)
            Graphics are also somewhat important. I remember playing old games like ultima 7 and thinking to myself... What is that thing supposed to be? as I looked at an item in my inventory that was composed of only a few pixels.

            Happens to this very day, too. sometimes you wonder what in the world you just looted off a mob in Wow, and think "why am I looting a slushy pancreas?"
          • The problem the parent eludes to is that many developers think graphics are more important than the game. Graphics are nice, but if the game sucks, a polished turd is still a turd. I'd rather play a great game with decent graphics than a mediocre game that awes me with shiny for the 30 minutes I play until I decide that it sucks.

            I agree with that statement. Its why things like XBox Live Arcade and the Wii's Virtual Console exist. The game you get on those - developed over a decade ago or more - are for the most part still playable because the gameplay stands the test of time, even if the graphics don't. MegaMan games were a true test to good gameplay. Not the new ones that come out like MegaMan Battle Network or Advent, I mean the originals, MegaMan X and MegaMan Legends. Those were games that had an excellent structure to support

          • by Aabra (775518)
            Then you should come back to your roots and play more Doom! Join us over at Skulltag [skulltag.com] - decent graphics but amazing gameplay. It's what it's all about. Although some of the new pwads users have made actually look a lot better than just decent. :)
        • You're right, of course, better graphics does not make a game worse. The problem is that many dev teams seem to put graphics first and worry about gameplay later. Two examples which may not make me very popular, but I think they show this perfectly well:

          Ratchet & Clank: Tools of Destruction
          This game looks awesome. It also plays well, don't get me wrong, but it's very obvious that the team spent most of their resources improving the graphics. The gameplay is virtually unchanged from the PS2 days: It's a
      • by king-manic (409855) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:53PM (#21482155)

        Good times when the hardware was limited and the focus was in the game itself, not only in the graphics as we see in lots of games nowadays.
        I find the trend towards minimalist nostalgia a bit too rampant on games.slashdot. The old games were sometimes fun but were more frequently exercises in repetitive game play. Pac man was interesting for it's time but boring as all hell now. Super Mario brothers was fun for it's time but highly repetitive. Back then the focus was on making a buck and you've neatly forgotten the 80% of the games in the bad old days that were just pure unadultered dreck. These days it's still 80% dreck but the EA factory produced dreck still has better basic playability then some of the gems of yore. It's sort of like music, so many older people remember fondly how great music was back in 1960 and gee how bad and crappy music is now. But really there was dreck and one hit pop wonders back int he 60's too and it was also 80% dreck. You've just forgotten all the dreck, summed up a decades worth of music in 40 good songs and compared it to whats on the top 40 now which represents only the preceding month. Similarly the "gameplay" folk take all the games they liked in their youth (10-20 years) and compared it to the last month of releases. No wonder it compares poorly, because you are comparing all the gems from 10-20 years to whats just got released and your nostalgic memory taints the whole endevour.

        Go back and play galaga then play another shooter like Raiden 3, play X-men:the arcade game and compare it to X-men legends II, play Hogans Alley and compare it to Time crisis 4, play pitfall and compare it to Ratchet and Clank future:TOD, or play donkey kong and compare it to Mario Galaxy.

        You'll find the "Good times" weren't so great and we are likely in the midst of a gaming renaissances but you're too caught up in nostalgia to notice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Tyler Durden (136036)
          It's sort of like music, so many older people remember fondly how great music was back in 1960 and gee how bad and crappy music is now. But really there was dreck and one hit pop wonders back int he 60's too and it was also 80% dreck. You've just forgotten all the dreck, summed up a decades worth of music in 40 good songs and compared it to whats on the top 40 now which represents only the preceding month.

          Wow, what nonsense. While it's true that nostalgia plays a part, it is also true that some decades j

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by king-manic (409855)

            Wow, what nonsense. While it's true that nostalgia plays a part, it is also true that some decades just create better music than others. Don't believe me? Try comparing the good music produced in the 60s to the good music produced in the 80s. Both are old enough to have the nostlgia effect, but you'll find that there is far more quality music from the 60s than the 80s, and the cream-of-the-crop of the 60s is also of higher quality than the cream-of-the-crop from the 80s. This decade so far is another dry spell all-in-all, even though there is some decent stuff out there.

            The 80's did have U2, Depeche mode, Good Metallica, Duran Duran, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, Guns and roses, Prince, good Micheal Jackson, the Beastie Boys, run DMC etc... There was good music as well. Compared to the 60's? It's more a different flavor then any drastic change in quality. People who like depech mode may not enjoy the Jimmy Hendrix, people who like the Doors may not be a fan of Cyndi Lauper but they each wrote some good songs.

            What do you define as quality music? Music that endures? Music with som

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Tyler Durden (136036)
              In the end, good music is just good music. With enough exposure to different styles, an individual can even recognize something they might not like as something good. (People who say stuff like, "That's not the type of music I'm into, but it's cool.")

              Except for being luke-warm on Depechme Mode and Duran Duran I agree with all of your choices as examples of good music. (Loved the Cyndi Lauper reference BTW. She's pretty underrated.) I agree there was some great stuff in the 80s. But the 60s were amazin
              • by king-manic (409855) on Monday November 26, 2007 @05:11PM (#21484023)

                Except for being luke-warm on Depechme Mode and Duran Duran I agree with all of your choices as examples of good music. (Loved the Cyndi Lauper reference BTW. She's pretty underrated.) I agree there was some great stuff in the 80s. But the 60s were amazing. At the time you had the double-threat of a counter-culture movement that wanted to explore other cultures and influences while also wanting to say something meaningful. This combination lead to an amount of experimentation and depth that produced some of the best modern music so far. Just because nostalgia skews things doesn't mean we should overcompensate when evaluating what stuff is worthwhile. It's just common sense that by some chance of cultural influences that some eras create better quality things in certain areas than others.
                There was also a statistically significant bulge in 15-30 years olds in the 60's which tend to be the most creative. so it may actually be a correlation to the number of 15-30 years olds. the 80's was likely the thinnest time for that while the 90's and 00's hit the echo boom bulge.

                Numerically it's difficult to tell. You need to pick a criteria, then you need to evaluate the all songs. The ones a person remembers is tainted by personal musical tastes and sales as a benchmark is extremely relative But there was good music in even the generally underrated 80's. i personally assert that it's about a 80% rule. 80% dreck to 20% good stuff, in almost every age, for almost any medium.

                In my play list is about 100 songs from 1960's, about 80 from the 70's, about 100 form the 80's, about 200 form the 90's, and about 100 from the 00's. I don't claim the 90's had a drastic increase in song quality but I was a teen in the 90's and that music shaped my musical tastes. I no longer have time to consume music like i did before so it's fewer songs in the 00's.

              • by DeadChobi (740395)
                Then any statements about one decade being better than another are meaningless since we have to depend on your intuitive understanding of what makes music "good."
            • by kkwst2 (992504)
              I'll add REM, Dire Straits, Bruce Springsteen, the Cure, The Clash, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, the Smiths, Sonic Youth, Bon Jovi, Black Flag, Rollins Band, Talking Heads, the Ramones, Suzanne Vega, 10000 Mainiacs, and Lyle Lovett off the top of my head.

              It was the era of the emergence of indie rock and grunge, and the "mainstreaming" of punk rock.

              I agree. You can find great popular music being made in any decade or century. The inability to do so likely suggests you're looking for a specific style

        • When I say 'lots' I'm not saying 'all', and as we can see you're not the first one to misread my post. I love game with cool graphics and I'm always looking forward to change my video card to support the new features as the games are released.

          So, I'm not saying that graphics sux but, again, that SOME game houses forget the game play/histories/etc and only focus on graphics. I'm not generalizing.

          • When I say 'lots' I'm not saying 'all', and as we can see you're not the first one to misread my post. I love game with cool graphics and I'm always looking forward to change my video card to support the new features as the games are released.

            So, I'm not saying that graphics sux but, again, that SOME game houses forget the game play/histories/etc and only focus on graphics. I'm not generalizing.

            Aside form the obvious tech demoes which ones do you mean? Got an example? I can't think of a best seller which fits this criteria although some people point to DEFCON. I think it's a minority. Almost any best seller has gameplay and graphics.

            "Lots" implies numerically significant or a majority.

        • There are important factors that you're missing, however.

          Back in the 80s, if you decide your character should have a spinning kick instead of his current attack, sure that takes an hour or two at most. Nowadays if you decide your character should have a spinning kick, often you're throwing out a few weeks of work. Iteration time is just plain faster with low graphics situations. You might claim that developers should do a low-graphic version of their game first, iterate on it, and then put in the graphic
          • Back in the 80s, if you decide your character should have a spinning kick instead of his current attack, sure that takes an hour or two at most. Nowadays if you decide your character should have a spinning kick, often you're throwing out a few weeks of work. Iteration time is just plain faster with low graphics situations. You might claim that developers should do a low-graphic version of their game first, iterate on it, and then put in the graphics, but that's not always an option. First of all, most publishers have deliverables, most game media want screenshots, and what are you going to do with all your artists in the mean time--fire them? Secondly, design and art need to work together; you'll see a lot of talks at GDC about using lighting cues to indicate to players what direction they need to go. There are some things you can design without art, and some things you can't.

            Redoing a kick would be a matter of repositioning the wire frame movement associated with that attack. so it was annoying to do before (redo 14 frames of character animation) and just as annoying now now (adjust 14 movements on the wire frame, recheck for clipping). More often gameplay adjustments are done to values not animations. So the same adjustment wouldn't be "straight kick to spinning kick" but "straight kick animation, single target for 100 dmg" to "straight kick animation, 10 unit AOE, 50 dmg". S

        • I'm pretty sure we produce more games now than in the 90's;
          Why are there fewer "classics" these days?
          Logically there should be more.
          (though I accept there are probably reasons why this is not the case.)
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by mistermiyagi (1086749)
          Yes 80% of games are dreck but as you mentioned so are 80% of music ( I will also add books,movies,tv and pretty much everything we as a species do- a few winners and a whole lotta losers ) but that is not to say that they should not have existed.For every Transformers : the movie there has to be a few Hitman : The movie. As for your comparison of older games to newer ones I find that you jump to far to quickly. Raiden III would not exist if it were not for galaga. Mario would not exist if it were not for
          • by KDR_11k (778916)
            You're forgetting that back then games were often tech demos too. The effects were just less pretty.
        • by KDR_11k (778916)
          play donkey kong and compare it to Mario Galaxy.

          Donkey Kong had a great spinoff in the '94 SGB version. That had a sequel in Mario vs Donkey Kong for the GBA which IMO didn't live up entirely to the standard of its predecessor since the way switches worked in it kinda limited what was possible in the level design compared to DK '94. The new switches were a nice idea but should have been in addition to the old system instead of replacing it. Also I think MvDK was missing the placeable elements (in DK'94 ther
  • Sounds great! Would also be cool if they eventually come up with a decent award show, unlike the previous ones we've had. They were basically rap music ads. It was showy and flashy but had no real value to video gaming recognition. Heck, I get more thrills from the usual slashdot top 10 blah blah games list. I forgot which show it was, maybe Spike TV's video game awards, but when they had something like "hot chicks reading out game codes" i almost gagged.
  • All in all it was a good watch, nothing I didn't know before, but fun nonetheless. It was nice to see Ralph Baer get some much deserved credit though it was quickly slapped aside when one of the commentators mentioned that it didn't matter who invented video games.
    • Disclaimer: I haven't seen the show in question, so I may be off here.

      A good argument can be made that, while Ralph Baer deserves an absolute mountain of credit, he wasn't the one who invented video games. As part of his dissertation on human-computer interaction, A.S. Douglas created a video game called naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe) in 1952 on the EDSAC computer at Cambridge, producing the earliest video game of which I've been able to find a photograph/working (emulated) model. http://www.pong-st [pong-story.com]
      • Well lets differentiate between the home market and an EDSAC. You can't just grab a joystick and enjoy your game of tic-tac-toe on your TV with an EDSAC. "Look honey, it's naughts and crosses, OH MY GOD IT BURNS!"
  • I believe you mean Spacewar! [wikipedia.org].
  • by revscat (35618) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:17PM (#21481689) Journal

    Five years ago or so there was a traveling exhibit that came through Dallas called Videotopia. It showed up at The Science Place (Dallas's science museum) and took up the vast majority of available floor space. It was amazing. Basically it had every video game. (Note the period at the end of the previous sentence; I'm exaggerating only slightly.) They were arranged chronologically, starting with Pong and moving onward to Space Invaders and so forth. This was all in one place and every game was a quarter. It was amazing. They even had a sit-down version of Sinistar, one of my all time faves.

    What excited me greatly was that they had working versions of all the "vector" games: Asteroids, BattleZone, Tempest, Star Wars. It also had all the laser disk games: Dragon's Lair, Space Ace, etc. All the games were in *great* shape.

    Anyway, this is only borderline on-topic, but I wanted to share anyway. I'd be surprised if these guys weren't consulted for the documentary. A brief search shows that the name of the exhibit was Videotopia, but it doesn't look like it's touring anymore, which is really, really too bad.

  • BREAKING!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by TheoMurpse (729043) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:42PM (#21481993) Homepage
    Jack Thompson sues Discovery for portraying video games in a sensible light!
  • by Logic and Reason (952833) on Monday November 26, 2007 @02:48PM (#21482093) Homepage
    The documentary is called "Rise of the Video Game", not "Rise of the Videogame."
  • Why did I have to hear about this for the first time on Slashdot? I'm constantly watching discovery channel, comedy central and adult swim. You'd think these networks would be the perfect place to put a commercial for this show, yet I've never seen one.
    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Hear! Hear! I only watch a few hours of TV a week, and almost half of them are Discovery Channel. I never heard of this show, but would have watched it if I had. The good news, is that they tend to show past episodes rather frequently on these short four parters, I think that the first episode of Storm Chasers was on about 10 times.
    • by mattack2 (1165421)
      As much as I hate to admit it, I think that I first saw this on one of the annoying "lower third" banner ads during Mythbusters.

      I enjoyed the first ep too, though as with all of these banner ads/bugs/etc., I would prefer the screen to be clear to show the *currently* airing show... even if it would mean missing this show until I saw it on slashdot!
  • Super Mario Brothers 7.4
    Pong 6.1

    How the heck did that happen? Pong is more of a classic then Mario ever will be.
    • by neminem (561346)
      "A classic is something that everyone wants to have played, and nobody wants to play" (apologies to Mark Twain for the blatant reappropriation)
    • by LKM (227954)

      How the heck did that happen? Pong is more of a classic then Mario ever will be.

      No. They're both classics in their own right, but it's very obvious that Super Mario Bros (not Mario per se, but the specific game) was way more influential in modern games than Pong.

  • This is a retitling of the "I, Videogame" series that aired on some of the international Discovery Channels earlier in the year. It is pretty good as far as videogame docs go.

    Tonight Starz is also showing a show called, "Hollywood Goes Gaming [starz.com]."

    However the blurb for it implies that the movie 300 was based on the videogame so I'm not too optimistic about its quality...
  • I happened to catch parts of the documentary. I've seen no advertising whatsoever for this program so I just happened to stumble onto it while flipping through channels one evening. That's kind of annoying considering all the constant advertising bombardment for Everest and other tripe.

    In general I found the documentary to be quite interesting. However, I couldn't help but come away with the feeling that the writers were desperate to make gaming culturally relevant. All the profound statements really got an
  • I loved being able to see and hear more about the actual Atari E.T. game they parodied in Code Monkeys recently. Nonetheless, you could definitely tell the game was a huge pile of suck.
    • by Viewsonic (584922)
      Having played it as a kid, it wasn't that bad. Compared to other games on the system, like Night Driver, it was a bit more complex. I found it pretty challenging trying to get ETs neck to extend and make me float out of those holes. It fascinated me just as much as any other game, really.

      I think the real reason it got a bad rap was because anyone beyond the "kid" mentality saw it for what it really was. A poor movie cash in.

      Those were some of the best days ever.

  • by Whatsmynickname (557867) on Monday November 26, 2007 @05:10PM (#21483997)
    > A little visually overwrought with its montage footage of real-world conflict

    A little? I would say a LOT. There were at times I thought, "aren't they going to talk about video games?" If I had this show recorded, I would have fast forwarded through half of this show.

    As far as the core information was concerned, the show was great. However, the "linkage" video to events at the time was, IMHO, way too emphasized. The show gave me the impression that the producers / director of the show was more enamored with the era than with video games.

    OK, I can see the space race tying into games due to the push for integrated circuits, but at first it seemed like the show was about the space race and not about video games. It got way worse when the show was tying in 60s-70s cultural events (hippies, feminism) to video games. No no no, I'm sorry, but neither I nor my kids watching the show got that at all. From what I remember, it was more of a bunch of geeks just "fooling around with the technology to see what it could do" more than what cultural dynamics was happening at the time (and one of the people interviewed pretty much said the same thing).

    If there are future parts of this show, I hope they have more video game history and less non-relevant cultural crap...
    • by F1_Fan (255672)

      A little? I would say a LOT. There were at times I thought, "aren't they going to talk about video games?" If I had this show recorded, I would have fast forwarded through half of this show.
      I watched this under the "I, Videogame" title. It's a horrible, horrible mini-series. At least half of each episode (and 75% in some cases) is pure filler.
  • I was really disappointed with the first episode. While the interviews with the pioneers were interesting, the editing and voiceover was poor. Too much time was spent trying to tie in early videogames to sociological movements of the 60s and 70s, and somehow the show flew Space Invaders/Pac-Man straight to the video game bust of the early 80s -- skipping the hundreds of great games that came in between.
  • Will they show who really created [wikipedia.org] the E.T. game [wikipedia.org]?
  • Tried to watch this doco, but it was too ADHD and not enough depth.

    They didn't even mention text! Remember the original Lunar Lander, Star Trek, Eliza? What "history of gaming" doco is complete without referencing the huge influence of text games? Or the ground-breaking interpretive text parser used in The Hobbit, that let us speak to characters in normal language? That has never been duplicated again, afaik.

    Instead, they made every reference to war, rockets to the moon, anything that flashes or goes "p

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