Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers

B2333

Video gaming has become a huge and still rapidly growing industry with amazing potential yet to be realized. It owes so much to the early pioneers, who are not well-known beyond the industry, like so many other pioneers of micro-computing, communications, information and electronic information. With so much happening in the industry some will say that “history is history, so lets move on”, missing the many lessons from the past that benefit the future. Fortunately, the author has written a comprehensive account of those pioneers in a very readable book that is of course also available as an eBook. This is a book that all video gamers should read, but it also contains so much that will interest an even wider audience.

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NAME: Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers
FILE: R2333
AUTHOR:  Andrew Hewson
PUBLISHER: Hewson Consultants
BINDING: soft back
PAGES:  251
PRICE: £14.39
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Spectrum, Commodore, 16-bit, console, processor, pioneer, 
over-clocking, trends, capacity, memory, pioneering, speed, gaming, 
electronic gaming, publishing
ISBN: 978-1-84499-136-5
IMAGE: B2333.jpg
BUYNOW: 
LINKS: http://tinyurl.com/glqm437
DESCRIPTION: Video gaming has become a huge and still rapidly growing 
industry with amazing potential yet to be realized. It owes so much to 
the early pioneers, who are not well-known beyond the industry, like 
so many other pioneers of micro-computing, communications, information
and electronic information. With so much happening in the industry 
some will say that “history is history, so lets move on”, missing the 
many lessons from the past that benefit the future. Fortunately, the 
author has written a comprehensive account of those pioneers in a very 
readable book that is of course also available as an eBook. This is a 
book that all video gamers should read, but it also contains so much 
that will interest an even wider audience.

Video gaming started with the dawn of the computer age. Initially it 
had a very serious purpose when the users of the first electronic 
computers, built in Britain for the vital code breaking at Bletchley 
Park, were used to present patterns in encrypted communications and 
'scripts' which were created to trick the Germans into providing clues 
to assist in breaking their codes. In 1946, a new Government decided 
to break up the development teams and destroy the early computers in a 
program of Luddite socialism. Fortunately, Churchill had ordered that 
information on the developments at Bletchley Park be shared with the 
US and tons of drawings, and documents were shipped to New York from 
1940 to Bill Stephenson and his office that was responsible for working 
with US intelligence agencies, the military and US industry. Where the 
British turned their backs on a hugely important new industry it was 
eagerly adopted in the US and the secrecy, maintained for decades by 
the heroes of Bletchley Park, meant that the world knew nothing of 
these first gaming pioneers. Fortunately for British intelligence 
parts of the program was maintained by Station X and CESG, including 
some of the fantastic technology. With the formation of the CIA, a 
close working relationship was maintained and Britain continued to 
pioneer the electronic information processing technology. However, what 
could have been a world leading British industry was lost, to be taken 
over by US developers to the enormous advantage of the US. It became 
just one depressing part of the British politicians' obsession with 
deliberately managing the decline of Britain, that was only briefly 
slowed by the Thatcher years and may be reversed by BREXIT.

Early electronic computers were very large and very costly. They were 
a mainframe technology that crunched numbers very well and were to 
slowly develop into the host/terminal environment where an increasing 
number of people were able to directly enter data from electronic 
terminals and demand information that could be displayed on CRT 
screens and even locally printed. What it did not yet permit was true 
video capabilities. The closest mainframes got was to display crude 
images composed with Xs on a green screen. Data admin teams often 
spent hours playing with their expensive charges and sending the crude 
images at very low speed to colleagues in distant locations.

The development of mainframe front ends allowed users outside the 
machine halls to create less crude images on increasingly intelligent 
terminals and transmit them at increasing speeds. It was not an 
entirely popular activity with senior management, if they found out, 
but it did perform a valuable service in keeping pioneering alive and 
benefiting the more serious corporate use of information. Then the 
real breakthrough of micro-computers supported an immensely important 
new stage of computer development. It began to bring computing to the 
masses and expanding the use of computers as financial, scientific and 
military technology into home computing and entertainment.

For those who were born after the dawn of this new age, it is 
difficult to appreciate the delight of users who were playing 'space 
invader' and 'tank-pong' games on the first gaming computers. The 
video display was not much different from the early pioneers' crude X 
images on mainframe computer terminals but it was excitingly new for 
the early home computer games users.

The introduction of personal computers, with their rapidly increasing 
performance, really opened up the video gaming industry and the 
performance of gaming optimised PCs, with their over-clocked 
processors and water cooling has provided a fantastic advance. The 
ability to house more than 11 very powerful disk drives, communicate 
at super broadband speeds and enable communities of gamers to 
participate in hugely complex international games produces an 
environment that the gaming pioneers could only vaguely imagine. For 
that reason, those pioneers have received limited recognition, but 
their work has made possible the most advanced virtual reality super-
gaming machines.

The author has written a charming account of those who worked to 
produce affordable gaming products that would become widely used and 
to continue to develop the quality of those products. The author 
himself has been a part of that development. The only thing that has 
been missed out is how some computer staff continued to develop their 
covert use of corporate computer assets and produced advances that 
eventually leaked into the commercial video gaming industry. In one 
example, a group of senior US Navy officers visited a defence 
contractor to be briefed on a very important USN project being 
developed. As was common at the time, the contractor had housed the 
computing systems behind a glass wall to impress visitors. On the way 
out an Admiral was impressed by the level of activity behind the glass 
wall at was a late hour. He asked if he could enter the machine hall, 
meet the personnel who were so actively engaged in activity, and to 
thank them for their contribution to the USN project. That was the 
point where he and his hosts discovered that computer staff were 
engaged in a golf tournament played on a virtual electronic golf 
course by people using corporate super computers in many US locations. 
In many companies, such a discovery might have resulted in people 
being sacked for misuse of corporate assets, but this event had a 
happy ending because a senior manager saw potential for the technology 
on upcoming US DoD projects.

In much the same way as the anecdote above, this book provides a very 
good view of how the pioneers operated and will inspire readers to 
try thinking outside the box. Exposure of history can be surprisingly 
productive in shaping the future.

For those of us who lived through the early pioneering years, this 
will be a great nostalgic trip. For those who missed these exciting 
years, it will provide a new perspective and may help some to better 
use modern technology. One of the factors of the development of gaming 
is that there is always a need for speed, to have greater memory, 
greater CPU performance, faster and more powerful video cards, greater 
communications bandwidth. We are now coming close the limits of 
development of the basic silicon technologies in the form that they 
have empowered performance growth during the last thirty odd years. 
Some of the future generations of new potential technologies are 
beginning to be used. They promise much, but some will prove to be 
blind alleys, like bubble memory that promised much in the 1970s, but 
never delivered. This continues to make economic use of resources 
important. Many readers, learning from this book of a past they knew 
very little about, may come to appreciate that layering products and 
applying more patches than a quilt is not the best way to go and the 
sprawling products that make use of what has been ever cheaper and 
more powerful components does not produce a product that is easy or 
cost effective to maintain.

This is a great story that has been well told – enjoy.

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