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50 Landmark Game Design Innovations

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the on-your-left-we-have-mods dept.

Games 156

Next Generation has put together a lengthy list of landmark game design innovations that many of your favorite games probably wouldn't exist without. They break them out into self-contained units, though it's sometimes ambiguous how they're demarcating game design elements. Just the same, it's an interesting look at where game industry trends have led us: "23. Gestural interfaces. Many cultures imbue gestures with supernatural or symbolic power, from Catholics crossing themselves to the mudras of Hindu and Buddhist iconography. Magic is often invoked with gestures, too--that's part of what magic wands are for. The problem with a lot of videogame magic is that clicking icons and pushing buttons feels more technical than magical. The gestural interface is a comparatively recent invention that gives us a non-verbal, non-technical way to express ourselves. Best-known example: Wii controller. Probable first use: Black & White, 2001."

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156 comments

Eve (-1, Offtopic)

zerocool^ (112121) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262043)


Is this the place to point out that as of today, Eve-Online is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux?

Not many games have officially supported all three. That's a big step.

~wx

Re:Eve (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262059)

Not many have had to. Linux has nearly all of the tools necessary to get the game working, provided you wanted to badly enough, and were willing to work for it.

Sadly, there's an easy out that many of us are far too willing to take. Dual-booting at least makes you feel less guilty.

Re:Eve (1)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262161)

Yes they had to. I want to play a modern graphics-intensive game. I am neither thrilled about paying Bill & Co cash just because software companies are too lazy to compile for Linux (and let's assume I don't want to take the yarr-harr route either), so dual-booting is not an option. Oh, and another thing I don't want is a 2-FPS slideshow kindly provided by WINE. That leaves the requirement of native Linux support.

If a company is willing to take the extra time to provide Linux binaries, I'd be willing to pay THEM a bit of extra money (or just be their customer as opposed to not be) rather than pay that money for an OS I don't want.

Re:Eve (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264217)

Wine runs everything I've thrown at it faster than Windows does. I don't know what you're doing wrong. Admittedly I'm not using anything requiring DX9+ and ultra-bleeding-edge graphics hardware but still... for most things more than a year or so old it seems fine.

Well then... (1)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264273)

Admittedly I'm not using anything requiring DX9+ and ultra-bleeding-edge graphics hardware but still


You included the problem in your own solution.

While the fact that Linux doesn't require bleeding-edge hardware is an asset, when the statement is turned around to "you don't need new hardware because Linux won't run any software that requires that hardware in the first place", then the asset becomes a liability. Why should I be restricted from the new goodies because of my OS choice?

This is a problem of "circular logic" of GPU manufacturers not making Linux drivers because there are no games for Linux, and game publishers don't make games for Linux because there are no drivers for them to run on.

The initial attempt to break the cycle is the hardest to achieve, and is least likely to bring profit. It takes some balls to be the first to challenge an existing monopoly and be open to alternatives (which EVE is doing right now), which is why as a consumer I'm willing to be part of funding that cycle-breaking, both for moral reasons and my own practical ones (I want new games for my Linux, dammit).

Re:Eve (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262275)

What does guilt have to do with it? I'm just lazy and not the obsessive gamer I once was, so I only boot out of debian into xp once in a while to play a game instead of bothering with often hokey settings to play a game with wine.

Re:Eve (1)

merreborn (853723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262567)

I played EVE under WINE on my macbook. The framerate was terrible. Unplayably so. On the other hand, if I booted into windows via bootcamp, the framrate was great (in excess of 20 FPS).

Having a native executable is always going to be superior to playing via WINE for any 3D game.

So, especially for someone who's used WINE to play, the availability of a native binary is exciting news.

Re:Eve (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265643)

The Mac version of WINE does not do 3D acceleration at all due to some incompatibilities with Apple's DRI. Crossover for Mac gets around this by bundling its own X server (with slightly better integration than Apple's) which has a compatible DRI implementation. I don't know if the new X server in Leopard fixes this.

Re:Eve (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262101)

Eve Online is one of the few games where I didn't even finish the free trial.

I felt the game was playing me more than I was playing it. "Hey buddy, I need you to press a few buttons here. No, not that one. Ok, now that one. Great, now fuck off for 45 minutes, I've got some flying to do."

It's a fish tank.

Re:Eve (3, Informative)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263027)

Its a sandbox. It provides you with pretty pathetic NPC-related gameplay, and asks you to make your own, whether it be building a corporation, taking part in the stock market, competing in the cutthroat economy, or conquering space and maintaining an empire.

While it certainly has its flaws, the most important thing one has to remember when trying EVE is that if you are uncreative enough that you want your game spoonfed to you, a'la World of Warcraft, EVE Online is not the game for you.

Re:Eve (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263697)

Its a sandbox. It provides you with pretty pathetic NPC-related gameplay, and asks you to make your own, whether it be building a corporation, taking part in the stock market, competing in the cutthroat economy, or conquering space and maintaining an empire.

While it certainly has its flaws, the most important thing one has to remember when trying EVE is that if you are uncreative enough that you want your game spoonfed to you, a'la World of Warcraft, EVE Online is not the game for you.
While I really appreciate the concept of EVE objectively, in execution it's what I call a retiree game, as in I'd have to be retired in order to play the sucker because it would be a part-time job, minimum. This isn't the kind of hobby like building a model ship on the weekends, this is like working from home. The payoff for most people are serious PVP battles but you have to earn your chips to play in that game and that means mission grinding, mining, etc. As for the people angle, there's plenty of shit to deal with running a corp, and that can take on full-time job characteristics.

The worst part of it is the rumors of developer corruption and talk of the free-isk plexes controlled by the major corporations. While I never found out all the details, from the outside looking in, it sure sounded like being stuck in a company where you're nose the grindstone all day while the boss' son breezes in at 10am, makes a pretense of working, cuts out at 3, and makes ten times what you do. Again, it makes the game seem like work rather than fun.

I chatted with some people in-game who had done the whole POS thing, had fleets of stations and the like. Those guys eventually downsized because the workload became just that, work.

I love the premise of the game, I love space flight and combat in general, and the feel of the game is nice. I just think it requires way too much of a time commitment.

Re:Eve (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263727)

Uh, time commitment? Are you serious? EVE's time commitment is much less than most other games; the main "time commitment" issue I've found is longer fleet operations and such; on the other hand, if I want to log in, plan some market manipulation or set up some production, it just takes me a few minutes. There are loads of different professions; choose one that doesn't require a large time commitment, and you can easily play 1 hour a week if you want. On the other hand, if you want to do something with a large time commitment, you can do that too. Its a game of choice; it doesn't force you to be a fucking moron and grind missions for hours a day for nearly no payout.

Re:Eve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264373)

Like others have said I never made it past the trial. I found the game pathetically weak in several departments, especially the travel. Hell one of the opening training missions for me was a flight that took me through 7 systems and was more than 15 minutes of real time as that was the closest system that could supposedly manufacture the item I needed to make. Any game where the intro to it involves you watching a screen and doing nothing for a full 15 mins as part of the training is a game not worth playing. When I possed the question in the chat how they anyone can find this BS acceptable I was told "get used to it, most of your time is spent doing nothing". 30 seconds later I was busy uninstalling the POS.

Re:Eve (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264581)

Perhaps the tutorials should be a bit better than they are now; the point of the game is that you only spend time doing nothing if you want to spend time doing nothing. It doesn't spoonfeed you the content; you're forced to actually play the game rather than mindlessly carry out a series of "fetch me this spoon and kill 17 kobolds."

Re:Eve (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263947)

If I have to make my own fun, I can do that without paying a subscription fee.

Re:Eve (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264587)

When you were a kid, you might have had a sandbox. In the sandbox, you had all sorts of toys to play with. Did you ever complain that, since you had to make your own fun, that sandboxes and the associated toys were a complete waste of money?

I'd rather have a sandbox where I can do what I want than a game that force-feeds me content and tells me I have to do things exactly the way it wants.

No (1)

fistfullast33l (819270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262171)

No, this [slashdot.org] is the place to mention that, and then your peers will vote for it here [slashdot.org] .

Also, while it's nice to see widespread support, Vendetta Online [vendetta-online.com] has been doing this for quite a while, and you can find a comprehensive list of Linux-supporting MMO's here [linuxquestions.org] . Submitting that as a story would have born that out, no doubt.

Re:Eve (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262191)

Terminus, Quake 3, Angband. Eve is the first for-profit MMOG that I can think of supporting all three, I'll grant you.

Re:Eve (3, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262583)

Games used to be written for 5+ platforms. How many platforms did Lemmings come out on? Or the original Prince of Persia? Apple ][, Commodore 64, DOS, Macintosh, Amiga, Atari possibly.

A game supporting 3 platforms is nothing, relatively speaking. (Since this topic is about the history of games spanning all the way to the beginning.)

Re:Eve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21263423)

All the more so because writing for Mac/Windows/Linux is absurdly easy these days. There's a variety of useful libraries and tools, but SDL will get you about 95% of the way there with no effort whatsoever. Mix in some of the many popular physics libraries, scripting languages, etc and all you really have to do is write the installers and maybe deal with some minor filesystem differences. What an amazing feat.

There's just no comparison to the old days where you were dealing with a minimal OS and manipulating the hardware directly.

Re:Eve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264471)

> All the more so because writing for Mac/Windows/Linux is absurdly easy these days.

Certainly easier than Wii, PS3, and XBox 360. There must be some other reason why it's not often done.

Re:Eve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264489)

ignorance is bliss. games back then were hundreds if not thousands of times smaller, both in story length, engine complexity, graphics, sound, AI and especially code size. This made porting significantly easier as the base code to port was not huge, most of the work was in the hardware compatibility itself. Hell I ported a game myself back then from an Apple IIe to Dos 3 I think it was at the time and took about 6 weeks, I would now spend MORE than 6 weeks just reviewing code in current games for porting let alone doing any of the actual coding. games used to be small and well defined and any good coder could look at a game and easily calculate out how much time it would take them to port, nowadays the sheer size of any games code base makes that a massive multi person job and hence a significant time and money investment in coding and TESTING, So even with a lot of the hardware complexity that is reduced through libaries there is a whole raft of code to review and port, and testing to be done, this means a game developer now has to seriously consider is it actually worth the cost to port it. People are expensive, if I have only 3 people working on a port for 6 months that alone is running into hundreds of thousands of dollars and all that must be recouped from sales.

Re:Eve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264503)

A game supporting 3 platforms is nothing, relatively speaking.
Generically I'll agree with you, a game supporting 3 platforms isn't all that interesting. I've seen games released this year that span a ridiculous number of platforms. Doing all three next-gen consoles and the PC nets you four platforms, throw in a DS "port" and a PS2 port and you're up to six. (And, almost certainly, a game based on a movie.)

But Eve isn't just a game. It's an online game.

Allowing people from multiple platforms to play together on the same server is something new and something that should be recognized. You can play it down by pointing out that all three platforms are x86, but still.

Now it's not the first "cross-platform" MMORPG since WoW has had a Mac client since it was released. But it IS the first MMORPG I'm aware of that has a Linux client.

Re:Eve (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265725)

Allowing people from multiple platforms to play together on the same server is something new and something that should be recognized.

Ok, let's recognize it when Final Fantasy XI does it-- three years ago.

oh god (-1, Flamebait)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262071)

The level of Nintendo fanboyism is reaching absurd levels here. Out of all those 50 things listed they have to fixate on the Wii one?

some that come to mind (3, Insightful)

joeflies (529536) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262091)

Role Playing
------------
whether it's obvious or not, the whole computer gaming model for player vs enemy combat is still largely the same as the dungeons & dragons model. The controls may vary from game to game, but it's largely choose the weapon, roll the dice, and survive the encounter by having more hit points left than your enemy does. Before this was implemented in videogames, you had the one-shot kill gameplay of space invaders or the hunt the wumpus "you're dead" text adventures.

Side Scrolling Screens

I'm not enough of a historian to say what game came up with it first, but the exploration possibilities of side-scrolling created really big worlds to explore.
 

Re:some that come to mind (2, Informative)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262475)

Quality Sound - One of the reason some of the crappy games get good scores is due to the judicious use of sounds, a crappy silent game just sucks, a crappy game with killer sound becomes much more enjoyable.

Theme music - As with sounds a good theme can make or break an otherwise average game.

Moving Character Animation - I recall reading in Donald Duck's Playground this was a big innovation.

Join at any time - I recall in Gauntlet players could join in at any time they didn't have to wait for the strongest player to die to rejoin the game, made it possible to get more quarters in a machine as well as allow weaker players to ride on the coattails of better ones (at least as long as they had quarters).

Wallpapers - I remember the controversy about Zaxxon "i's a mediocre game, it is just visual wallpaper", that visual wallpaper is just about mandatory on all games nowadays.

Save State - Before disk drives many games had no save character option.

Level Designer - A great feature that made game like Lode Runner runaway hits.

Copy Protection - May not be a matter of celebration for the user, but it was a game design innovation, and for some a new challenge of successfully copying the game besides shooting the bad guys. Also some of the things those crackers did to the games made some unplayable games playable (trained cracks).

Re:some that come to mind (1)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263445)

Quality Sound - One of the reason some of the crappy games get good scores is due to the judicious use of sounds, a crappy silent game just sucks, a crappy game with killer sound becomes much more enjoyable.

Theme music - As with sounds a good theme can make or break an otherwise average game.
Seems pretty minor. I would say putting pop music on game soundtracks had a bigger effect on games, but I wouldn't even put that ahead of any of his 50 choices.

Moving Character Animation - I recall reading in Donald Duck's Playground this was a big innovation.
Sounds like you're talking about animated sprites. That's fair enough -- it was very important to games -- but it was more of an evolution than an innovation. It was always pretty obvious how to make animated sprites given the computing power, and it was always pretty obvious that it would be a nice thing to have. (There was a pretty blurry line between animated vector art and animated sprites at the time.)

Join at any time - I recall in Gauntlet players could join in at any time they didn't have to wait for the strongest player to die to rejoin the game, made it possible to get more quarters in a machine as well as allow weaker players to ride on the coattails of better ones (at least as long as they had quarters).
Nice one. Another popular example from the same time period was Rampage. Although it's an interesting thing to note, I don't think it supplants any of the article's choices.

Wallpapers - I remember the controversy about Zaxxon "i's a mediocre game, it is just visual wallpaper", that visual wallpaper is just about mandatory on all games nowadays.
Not sure what you mean.

Save State - Before disk drives many games had no save character option.
The article mentions save games on the last page.

Level Designer - A great feature that made game like Lode Runner runaway hits.
Good point; this goes hand-in-hand with mods, which was mentioned. The only difference between a mod and a level editor is in power/complexity, and the ability to distribute mods.

Copy Protection - May not be a matter of celebration for the user, but it was a game design innovation, and for some a new challenge of successfully copying the game besides shooting the bad guys. Also some of the things those crackers did to the games made some unplayable games playable (trained cracks).
Another good point; if he's going to list interactive movies (ala Dragon's Lair) as an evolutionary dead-end, he may as well mention the currently very unpopular topic of copy protection. Particularly since games have such a rich history of interesting forms of copy protection (like the Infocom feelies).

Re:some that come to mind (1)

Skrapion (955066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263247)

Role Playing
------------
whether it's obvious or not, the whole computer gaming model for player vs enemy combat is still largely the same as the dungeons & dragons model.
That's why he didn't include it in the list. It wasn't a video game innovation.

Side Scrolling Screens
Similarly, on the fourth page, titled "Presentation", he says in the first paragraph:

"I take static and scrolling 2D screens for granted; they already existed in mechanical coin-ops."

Roleplaying != hitpoints (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265727)

Contrary to popular belief, hit points don't actually have anything to do with roleplaying. There are plenty of excellent RPGs that don't use hit points, and there are plenty of games with hit points that don't bother with roleplaying. Videogames, for example.

Re:some that come to mind (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265891)

unless it's apocryphal, i read somewhere that defender was the first game to have a gameworld larger than the size of the screen.

Complaining about choices (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262109)



Let's face it, most action games are about force. Even when confronted with overwhelmingly powerful enemies, your only option is to avoid their killing shots while grinding away at them or searching for their vulnerable spots. In stealth play the idea is to never even let the enemies know you're there, and it requires a completely different approach from the usual Rambo-style mayhem. Best-known early example: Thief: The Dark Project, 1998. First use: unknown.

Really? Not Metal Gear? 1987 for the original, or also 1998 (according to Wikipedia, two months before Thief: The Dark Project) for Metal Gear Solid?

Re:Complaining about choices (3, Interesting)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262249)

Well, "best known" is something of a judgment call. As someone who enjoys the Thief series but has never played any of the Metal Gear games, Thief is certainly better-known to me

In an unintentional irony, the screenshot for that one shows what happens when you fail at stealth. Swordfights aren't good things to get into in Thief. I found them practically unwinnable until I switched to a 3-button mouse and mapped the parry maneuver to the middle button.

Re:Complaining about choices (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262335)

D'oh, I should have previewed. I put nice "<obligitary complaining about subjective opinions>" around that.

Re:Complaining about choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21263035)

Infiltrator [wikipedia.org] by Micropose beats Metal Gear in the Stealth genre by a year.Can anyone find anything earlier?

Re:Complaining about choices (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263199)

your only option is to avoid their killing shots while grinding away at them or searching for their vulnerable spots

Well, provided you have a strong pet(s), you can also let your pet(s) handle the enemies, or you can lure them (the enemies, not the pets) into a pit or a trap. :)

WASD (#20) (2, Insightful)

Radres (776901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262127)

In the article, it says that it is unknown where this innovation came from, but I would hazard a guess that it was players of Duke Nukem 3D and Quake 1 who customized their control setup to this way. It makes sense because before these games, there wasn't the concept of a computer game with full 3D where you look up and down and can have your character move forwards, backwards, left, and right at equal speeds.

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262229)

I aliased w to north, a to west, s already was south, and d to east when I first played MUDs like MUME in the early 90s. :) I think using WASD was just natural.
Also, Doom and Wolfenstein 3d were released a few years (1993-ish) before Quake and Duke Nukem 3d (1996-ish). :)

Re:WASD (#20) (2, Insightful)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262333)

Using the mouse with Wolf3D and DOOM was rather uncommon, though. Since neither game was 3D there wasn't much need for looking up and down. Keyboard was sufficient for the vast majority of players who kept on using the same old arrow keys they were used. Some elite Doom players began using the mouse but they were a small minority.

It wasn't until the true 3D Quake, which required vertical aiming, that mouse use became the norm. Since the right hand, previously seated comfortably on the arrow keys, was now occupied with the mouse, it was only natural that the left hand took over movement duty, using keys closer to where the left hand normally resides on the keyboard.

Re:WASD (#20) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21262479)

While the rendering engine wasn't 'true 3-d' in the sense Quake was, Marathon(by Bungie, aka the Halo people) had an FPS engine where vertical aiming was required and predated Quake by a significant margin. Mouselook was fairly common with it, though I forget what the default keybindings were. It was closer to Doom or Doom 2 in time period than Quake.

Frequently heard of something called Rise of the Triad on the DOS/Windows side of things that also had a more advanced than Doom/Wolf3d but less than Quake engine, and was also released in that time frame...

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262659)

According to Wikipedia, Quake wasn't released until June 22, 1996. Descent was released February 28, 1995. Descent not only had vertical and horizontal aiming, but because you were in a spaceship, and not running around, it also had to deal with rotation. Although, because flight was involved, it was more common to use a joystick in Descent.

Re:WASD (#20) (2, Informative)

SpectreHiro (961765) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263001)

If memory serves, the WASD+mouselook interface was really pioneered by SkyNET, a Bethesda Terminator game that came out a short while before Quake. It's the first game that used mouselook as the default AFAIR -- the original Quake still required the player to enable mouselook manually, I believe (+mouselook).

Some info at der Wiki. [wikipedia.org] ...and MobyGames [mobygames.com]

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263279)

Some elite Doom players began using the mouse but they were a small minority.
"Elite" Doom 95 players? I don't know about elite, being such late comers and all. I mean, most people were still using DOS back when Doom came out. I clearly remember "elite" Doom I/II and Descent players used keyboards. Using a mouse for gaming probably became chic a bit after Windows 95 came out at least.

I can't imagine using a mouse in Doom I/II being all that beneficial, they were designed for keyboard use primarily, both being DOS games and all. This is true of the original Quake also. Circle strafing a 2d sprite is... awkward, and you couldn't exactly sneak up behind something in Doom. You didn't have any long range instant firing weapons like a rifle, and lining up long range shots with the precision of a mouse was useless, everything moved too fast. If you think using a keyboard for Quake is weird, consider that you had to MANUALLY install TCP/IP drivers for Windows 95 to play Quake over IP networks, and then it did NO client side prediction. Quake lasted for many many years, and a lot of stuff changed over time.

It wasn't until the true 3D Quake, which required vertical aiming
Quake came out sometime after Windows 95, but even then it didn't require a mouse, and mouselook had to be turned on manually. Quake was a DOS game. It did have autoaim on by default, like other quasi-3d games before it, vertical aiming done for you. Quake was very playable with just a keyboard. QuakeWorld is a whole different subject, as is Doom 95.

Even after common mouse use, no version of Quake ever shipped with WASD bindings, IIRC. I don't know if any game shipped earlier with those defaults, but I and many others learned from other Quake players and did the bindings ourselves. WASD does make sense, but I think it only got popular after QuakeWorld and playing on the internet was common.

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

Radres (776901) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262447)

When I think of the innovation behind WASD, I think of WASD + mouse with A and D for strafing as opposed to turning. Whether you use WASD, ESDF, the cursor keys, or some other key combo is irrelevant.

ESDF WASD (4, Interesting)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262233)

I always preferred to use ESDF for movement keys instead of WASD, for two main reasons. First, since F is one of the home keys, it makes it easy to be sure your fingers are in the right position without looking down at the keyboard, since the F normally has a raised nub on it. Second, shifting the movement keys over to the right one from WASD adds 3 more keys that are easy to hit with your pinky for binding to useful game actions.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262749)

Absolutely. I've never understood the WASD setup - it simply doesn't make since. I've been converting my friends to ESDF for several years and it's like a light bulb going off in their head every time. Good to know there's someone else on the crusade. Maybe someday the game designers will include it as a default option.

Here's to progress - CHEERS!

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

Virtual_Raider (52165) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263683)

While on LAN parties my friends used to complain about my "unplayable" (to them) key setup. I always use the ASD part, but map the advance to button two on the mouse, fire to button one, and secondary fire to button three. Plus I had a trackball, which is great for maneuverability and saves milliseconds of dragging the mouse around, also less RSD injuries. I guess the best layout is the one that works for one, and it's a great advantage I feel PC games have over consoles.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

Charcharodon (611187) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263961)

It's amazing to learn there are others out there. Everyone always told me I as insane for ESDF. Of course they called me crazy when I switched from the arrow keys to the key pad, and then later for jumping to WASD.

I think the next leap will be to that configureable keyboard that is out, with every key layed out perfectly for my hand.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264061)

And I like .OEU -- same keys as ESDF, but in Dvorak.

I type on a Kinesis contoured keyboard [kinesis-ergo.com] , in Dvorak key layout. The kinesis is wicked sick for FPS gaming; aside from the ergonomics that minimize finger traverse distances, having six keys around the left thumb makes for a lot of bindable actions.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

Jamu (852752) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264539)

Completely agree. Keyboards are designed to have your fingers over ASDF. So, unless you have a bad keyboard, ESDF will always be the most efficient position (with the normal arrangement of movement keys) for your left hand.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264769)

Doesn't it bother your finger that one of the keys has the raised bit though? If it were the middle key I think that might work, but it'd drive me fucking nuts if it were asymmetrical. Please tell me that it's not just me, or I might have to call my shrink again!

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264805)

It's just you. :)

Seriously though, we all get weirded out by different things. If the raised bit bothers you, why not move another key to the right and go with RDFG?

The biggest problem with these key layouts is rebinding all the game's keys. Also, you'd be amazed how many games hardcode the default keymap into the tutorial. "Press R to reload!" no, R makes me go forward. That doesn't help at all! Stupid game >:(

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264833)

Well at least hardcoding is slightly better than what tends to happen on consoles when they don't want to build in dynamic tutorials (which is stupid since there are so few buttons). With those they just go, "Now push the [jump] button to jump." or something similarly ridiculous.

As for weird alternatives to WASD, I've always wondered if it'd be possible to learn how to play Vi-style, maybe F for forward, D for backward, and then A/S for left/right, or something like that. Anyone want to learn and tell us how hard it is?

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

ZorbaTHut (126196) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265147)

Old Mac keyboards had something similar to that - instead of an upside-down-T-shaped directional pad, the had the four arrow keys in the bottom-left, in a row. I no longer remember what order they were in (besides "awful".)

It was usable, once you got used to it, but not intuitive in any way whatsoever. I'm not sure anyone used it enough to determine if it was actually better.

Re:ESDF WASD (1)

Admiral_Grinder (830562) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265703)

I'm close, but not quite that. I use F for forward, C for backward, S for strafe left and D for strafe right, A for crouch. I don't have a hard time at it and I have done it since Quake I. I tried for a setup that is natural and has more keys available. Even though it does bother me to have two separate fingers on opposing actions at all times (strafe L/R) I find it easy to remember in a clutch and very responsive.

Re:ESDF WASD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264825)

While ESDF may have its uses, it is not usable for me. Having a German keyboard, the left shift key would be to far to the left to be comfortable, mainly because German keyboards have an additional key between left shift and Y (which is Z on a US keyboard). Also, it places my pinky above the Windows key, which I don't want to accidentally press while playing a game. Using WASD, my pinky is above the Ctrl and Shift key.

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262417)

I've personally always thought that the WASD setup sucked. My personal setup is using the keypad with the left hand. + and enter as forward and back (using thumb and index), 8 as jump, 2 as duck, 4 and 6 for left and right. Rest of the buttons on the keypad can be used for other needed functions such as switching weapons. I've found that I can work pretty well with this, and it's nice to be able to switch from forward to backward without moving any fingers. I also find that I am much less likely to lose my position on the keyboard. I would often beat people with much more experience then myself, even though they said I'd never be any good if I used the setup I was using. I started to use this configuration in Descent, which was probably one of the first real 3D games, not just 2D with a little bit of vertical jumping.

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262445)

I was using this setup in the late 80's on the Apple ][ which grew out of the WordStar E/S/D/X diamond cursor control. Lode Runner and other games used IJKL; it was not that much of a shift to move it over to the the left side of the keyboard.

Re:WASD (#20) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21262841)

WASD has always felt so awkward and uncomfortable to me. It forces your hand into an unnatural tension with your index and ring fingers scrunched somewhat and your middle figner overextended. More importantly it forces you your middle finger to play double duty in doing both forward and backward movement.

I much prefer SDF Space bar, with your fingers all on the same row (pinkie on A for jump) and your thumb on the space bar for backwards movement (SDF for left forward and right). This lets you rest your hand naturally on the keyboard with zero tension and since each key has a finger on it there's no need to move fingers, just key press where they rest.

Re:WASD (#20) (1)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263365)

I've got a friend who uses a setup like this.

It's a very, very good way to keep people off your machine at LAN parties. Then again, if they do use it, you can count on returning to your seat to find that someone hit the "use defaults" button in your settings, and you'll have to put your weird-ass controls back on.

Re:WASD (#20) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264675)

WASD for up/left/down/right is at least 25 years old. Many early keyboards didn't have cursor keys so games were forced to select the least insane group. I believe "vi" used something similar. It's CURSOR KEYS for movement that was the innovation :)

banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

brilanon (1121645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262213)

Why do they say BK invented "coupled avatars" when I'm sure DKC came out first?

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262365)

"Why do they say BK invented "coupled avatars" when I'm sure DKC came out first?"

The difference between Diddy and Donkey in DKC wasn't very big. I don't recall any specific reason to use one over the other. It's possible that in BK, the two characters were so different that you needed to switch between them to actually win. I dunno, though, since I never played BK.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (2, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262431)

Right. That's the point they made. In the DK series there were some minor differences in the later games (like Dixie being able to float), but the other character was essentially an "extra life", so you could take a hit and not lose instantly.

In BK, the two characters were linked all the time. They did have different abilities and helped each other. You could jump off a platform as Banjo (who you controlled) but press a button to use Kazooie to glide. You could press a button to have Kazooie's legs pop out and use them to run fast. It was a well done mechanic that used both characters. It was different, and necessary. You didn't need to use the one little team ability in the Sonic games. I don't even remember any in Donkey Kong Country.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262541)

Ok, I mentioned Mario 2 in another post, but after that post I realized my understanding of this was a bit off. After your little explanation, A Boy and His Blob immediately popped into my head. Also, Megaman. While they were all technically the same Avatar, using the abilities you had won from beating boss characters to perform different actions seems to fit this catagory pretty well. Although, I don't think there was any ability to use 2 powers together.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263357)

Diddy's jump and his roll both went further than Donkey did. In the DKC games, if you did a roll off the edge of a platform, you could do a jump while in mid-air. If you did that as Diddy, you went a lot further than as Donkey.

Donkey carried barrels over his head, while Diddy carried them in front of him. I'm not sure, but I think Donkey moved a little better while carrying a barrel.

The differences were enough that the harder to get secret areas were significantly easier if you picked the right character.

Oh, the other difference was with large enemies. Only Donkey could hurt the bigger enemies - Diddy just bounced off.

In Banjo Kazooie, Banjo was a bear and Kazooie was a bird sitting in his backpack. While technically they were two characters, you couldn't separate them, so it was basically just one character with a lot of abilities.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

brilanon (1121645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265291)

Also, pushing down+Y would make Donkey Kong slap the ground, which would occasionally reveal bananas etc.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262487)

What about Super Mario Bros. 2?

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

Ravenger (715905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264911)

Head over Heels on the Zx Spectrum programmed by Jon Ritman featured two independent characters that had differing abilities. You could use them separately, or once you brought them together they could link up and become a single character with both sets of abilities. It was released in 1987.

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (1)

Phydaux (1135819) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265565)

Head over heals is exactly what I thought when I read that section. After hours of isometric puzzling you manage to get them together then have many more hours going back to all those parts you couldn't do with just the one half of the duo. Great stuff!

Re:banjo kazooie == donkey kong country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264909)

Head Over Heels, 1987 predates Banjo by 11 years. From Wikipedia:

The game introduces an original concept: the player controls (initially separately) two characters instead of just one. The two characters have different abilities (Head can jump twice as high, control himself in the air, and fire doughnuts from a hooter to paralyse enemies; while Heels can run twice as fast, climb certain staircases that Head cannot, and carry objects around a room in a bag), which become complementary when the player combines them together after about a sixth of the game.

Intellivision Utopia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21262289)

37. Construction and management simulations. Both LEGO blocks and business management games predate the computer, but videogames put the two ideas together for the first time. Best-known early example: SimCity, 1989. Probable first use: Utopia for the Mattel Intellivision, 1982.

I just want to point out here how awesome Utopia was... I swear that a Flash game based on it would sweep the globe up into its time-wasting clutches.

That is all.

Kevin

Disagree with 21 (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262293)

An Interesting article. I would, however, disagree with a couple, particularly #21. I've yet to see a good Voice Recognition game, they all seem to be iffy at best and rarely fun because you have to repeat the command 6 or 7 times before it's properly heard. When was the last time you saw a game with voice recognition (and I mean actually recognizing it as a word, not Boogie's system) on the shelves? I haven't seen any in years, the last one I heard good reviews for was Bridge Commander, and the Voice Recognition was a side thing (and a poorly working one).

#45 isn't really that innovative either. Games for Girls tend to take old engines, modify them, and tack on some 'girly' graphics, then release the game (that isn't worth more than a couple of bucks) for the same price as a brand new, high quality game. The majority of girl gamers I know avoid them like the plague because they tend to be so awful, and because they usually borrow their game mechanics from better mainstream games, which means you can get the same gameplay, with better graphics and polish, and without the advertising and horrible dialog, for about the same price.

The rest are actually pretty accurate. I was plesantly surprised to see so many good ideas listed, and even more surprised to see a good old game I had completely forgotten (PaRapper) mentioned.

Re:Disagree with 21 (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262467)

Mario Party 6 and 7 use a microphone for some of the minigames. I think that they are pretty good at recognizing most people's voices, at least for the words they need to recognize. Although I've seen it screw up a few times, I think they did a pretty good job at it. Especially considering it's only a very small part of the game.

Re:Disagree with 21 (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264817)

Odama [gamerankings.com] used it pretty extensively, though the recognition wasn't always that great if reviews are to be trusted.

No props for nintendo dance aerobics? (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262351)

Really, I think this game deserves mention in both 40 (rythym, dance, and music) and 22 (specialized I/O for music). It certainly predates the ones that are mentioned for each of those. Sure, most of us played World Class Track Meet on the power pad, but we had heard of dance aerobics.

Frankly, it seems that this article was just not concerned with many of the innovations that came out of the 8bit NES.

#3 Stealth -- I feel asleep! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21262413)

I'm surprised with all the research they did into this, they can't select a first use of stealth in a game... unless its SO stealthy it eludes them...

Stealth, as we would know it today would probably require at least 8-bit sophistication, unless there was a "Sneak up" command in Zork or something. My best guess at it would be the original Metal Gear. Metal Gear Solid wouldn't be what it is today if not for the original game. The whole first part of the game is avoiding detection, until you can get your hands on a good weapon.

Gestural Input Devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21262441)

Of course, by "probable first use: Black & White" they meant to say Super Glove Ball [wikipedia.org] .
Or any other game designed to use the Power Glove. ( and to a lesser extent the stillborn "U-Force" [wikipedia.org] )

Some innovations not as new as one might think... (1)

Shauni (1164077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262459)

Things like "reversible time" were built into some early games implicitly, such as Zelda (screw up a puzzle? Leave and come back and you're golden), or explicitly, such as in Lufia 2 (1998), which literally had a room-reset spell you could cast. Other early Final Fantasy games (FF5, 1992, I believe is the earliest) had time spells that let you restart battles as if you'd never fought them.

Fact checking (2, Informative)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262527)

#1 : The earliest computer games didn't offer exploration.

Yeah, except Ken Thompson's 1967 Space Travel game which involved exploring a vector-graphics solar system.

#11, #16, #44, #46 (5, Informative)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21262559)

The first minigame I ever saw was in Major Havoc [wikipedia.org] , which came out in 1983. As you approached the space station for the next battle, you had a little Breakout game to play in the lower right corner of the screen. When you cleared it, you got an extra guy. I don't know how popular it ever was or how well known, but there you are, and at least moderately early.

Physics puzzles? 1992? Since the article doesn't confine itself to graphic games, that's not even close. Try KINEMA [atariarchives.org] . The book the listing on that page was taken from was published in 1978, but I saw it a year earlier on a timesharing system my high school was connected to. Yeah, it looks like a quiz, but there are quiz games too, and everyone called this a game.

I wonder if this guy ever even played Dragon's Lair [wikipedia.org] . It didn't use a CD-ROM because it predated them, and the animated scenes wouldn't have fit on one anyway; it used a laserdisc. The picture wasn't "tiny, grainy", it was very high-quality hand-drawn animation -- by Don Bluth, for God's sake.

The article makes it sound as if the "brag board" was something the game industry invented. Actually, it had been around for decades -- albeit informally, and probably illegally. When you scored amazingly well on a pinball machine, you recorded it by carving the score and your initials into the frame around the backglass. Preferably while the manager of the establishment hosting the game wasn't looking. The tradition carried on into coin-op video games. Building it into the machine did two things. It prevented lying about your score, and it saved wear on the game cabinets.

Re:#11, #16, #44, #46 (1)

Sark666 (756464) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263287)

Well, one thing to mention of defender. It had two firsts. It's brag board kept the list even with the power off. And it was the first game to have a 'map' if you will seeing information of the action going outside what was on the current play area.

Re:#11, #16, #44, #46 (1)

CaptainCarrot (84625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263473)

I don't know about the "radar" being a Defender first. Battlezone had one too, and they both came out the same year. The Atari 2600 game from 1979, Star Raiders, (God, that was addictive) had a similar concept, but you had to switch to a "sector scan" view to see it. You could still navigate in that view though; it was useful for locating bases and enemies and traveling in their general direction.

*poke* *poke* Here's one I never saw in the arcades: Fire One! [klov.com] . Looks like it had exactly that kind of thing a full year before Defender came out.

Star Raiders had difficulty levels come to think of it, and it came out in 1979, so it could have at least been cited as an early example.

Re:#11, #16, #44, #46 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21264117)

And in 1987 there was the Shinobi arcade game, whose bonus stage was a minigame. Pretty sure it was old hat by then, as I'm fairly certain there were some minigames on my Texas Instruments 99/4A, whose heyday was the late '70s.

[Editor's note: turns out the 99/4A was released in '81, only the 99/4 had come out in '79. Switch to "early '80s".]

Pinball bragboards/score overflow (1)

splutty (43475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264821)

Most annoying thing I've ever found in pinball machines were a couple that actually overflowed back to zero on the display and did the same damn thing internally!

So for a few of those it was the trick to get as close to 999,999,999 (or whichever equivalent thereof) without actually going over. For some of those machines it was fairly easy (just tilt the sucker), but others were amazingly tilt proof, and god it sucked when the ball would hit just that one bumper on the way down.

Origin of “stealth” is unknown? (0, Redundant)

Lethyos (408045) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263123)

They have got to be joking. Did Metal Gear [wikipedia.org] honestly escape their attention? (On second thought, that is very appropriate.)

Re:Origin of “stealth” is unknown? (1)

mqduck (232646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265559)

They have got to be joking. Did Metal Gear honestly escape their attention? (On second thought, that is very appropriate.)
As the author implied, he knows he doesn't know all the answers. Give the guy a break.

31. Procedural landscape generation. (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263311)

The first use of this was probably Rogue, which is older than River Raid.

Article skips huge swaths of history (-1, Troll)

LrdDimwit (1133419) | more than 6 years ago | (#21263381)

Why the article focuses only on video games, I don't know. But it called itself "innovations in game design", and didn't have anything at all to say -- good, bad, whatever -- about anything non-computerized. Consider the evolution of the game of chess, for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins_of_chess [wikipedia.org] The queen and the bishop both evolved from previously weak pieces. Why? What did the rule changes bring? Surely there is something to be learned here. Why is the Queen a rook and a bishop? Why not a rook and a knight? Why is there no uberqueen (can move like queen or knight)? All of these speak to a certain issue of balance of power -- offhand, I'd say that the rules changes were intended to speed the game up, without making first-mover advantage too powerful. What does that say about game design? Nothing that the authors mention.

Or how about the introduction of playing cards. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Playing_cards [wikipedia.org] Why four suits? The Indian decks referenced can have many more. Why four suits, and why the specific ones we have? Standardization. Consider the vast variety of games played with a deck of cards; how many use nonstandard decks? Very few. But there are far more interesting things about card games -- as evidenced by the fact that poker bots suck.

Video games have been around for a few decades. Chess has been around for the better part of a millenium. Even though I may not be able to answer all the questions I just raised, I knew that they were there. To barely even mention games that are not electronic, in an article on 50 landmark game design innovations seems to me to be the height of folly, or perhaps hubris. (Anyone care to apply game theory to my managing the odds of getting modded troll for that last remark? ;)

Re:Article skips huge swaths of history (1)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264441)

Well... despite that they mean "video game design" the article is still a poorly researched piece of shit. Most landmarks are not landmarks, the reason why certain elements were not in the early games is because it was technically not feasible, not because nobody thought about it. And as you mentioned, a lot of game elements come for non electronic games that have been around much longer.
For example: "Exploration", "Storytelling", "Avatars with their own personalities" those come straight from tabletop RPGs. It's not innovative to do the exact same thing, but then electronically. Just like eBooks and ePaper are not innovative wrt to the act reading, they are innovative wrt book publishing.

"Mod support" isn't innovative either, people always wanted to tinker with stuff they spend time with. Games later included mod'ing tools (ok, the tools the game devs used to create the game content) with their games because people wanted it and otherwise they would create it themselves. Doom didn't have mod support, customers made tools to modify the game. And "Modding is a form of gameplay;"... wtf... no it isn't, it's a way to extend gameplay.

Eve is not native (1)

gslavik (1015381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264035)

You do realize that the EVE installer is actually installing Cedega, right?

Re:Eve is not native (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21264571)

So what? The important part is that it works and is supported by the developers. Everything else is an unimportant implementation detail.

He needs to check up on his video game history (1)

mlu035 (460042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265301)

14. Coupled avatars....Possible first use: Banjo-Kazooie, 1998.

Hasn't this guy ever heard of Head Over Heels, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_Over_Heels_(video_game) [wikipedia.org] ?

Quite a few of the possible first uses are a bit out of kilter with video game history, and some of the fifty just plain pointless, although the author acknowledges this.

Stealth classics (1)

Synonymous Bosch (957964) | more than 6 years ago | (#21265445)

Someone in the comments on the article mentions The Sentinel (1986) [wikipedia.org] but I can't believe Hacker (1985) [wikipedia.org] slipped by them - hell, that game was one of the things that inspired my love of technology in my youth, putting me where i am today (alongside William Gibsons Neuromancer).

Stealth in Games meant a different level of strategy and thinking than the running around and bludgeoning your way to victory method found nearly everywhere else - stealth and smarts were much more in line with my personality.

I've been wanting a re-imagining of the hacker with modern ideas to come out for years, actually - anyone seen anything worthy?
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