The War on Used Games

Most people have an intuitive understanding of what a “game” is. The term “game” can be used to describe board games such as chess or Monopoly, card and casino games like blackjack and poker, as well as slot machines and roulette, military games, computer games, and other types of play, including various forms of play among children. Game theory is a term used in academia to describe multiple agents choosing strategies and tactics in order maximize their gains within a set of rules. The word “game” is often used in relation to computer-based entertainment. It conjures up images of a virtual world with a humanoid, animal, or vehicle acting as the main character. For the older geezers, it may bring back images of classic two-dimensional games like Pac-Man, Pong, and Donkey Kong. Raph Koster’s excellent book A Theory of Fun For Game Design defines a game as an interactive experience that presents the player with a series of increasingly difficult patterns, which he or her learns and then masters. Koster argues that learning and mastering are the core of “fun” just like a joke is made funny when we recognize the pattern.

Video Games and Soft Real-Time Simulations

Computer scientists refer to soft real-time interactive agent based computer simulations as the most common form of two- and three-dimensional video gaming. Let’s take a closer look at this phrase to understand its meaning. Most video games have a subset of the real world (or imaginary world) that is mathematically modeled so it can be controlled by a computer. Because it’s impossible to include all details down to the level atoms and quarks, the model is an approximation of and simplification of real life. The mathematical model simulates the real world or imaginary game world. Simplicity and approximation are two of the most powerful tools for game developers. Even a simplified model can be fun and almost unrecognizable from reality if used well.

Agent-based simulations are those in which several distinct entities, known as agents, interact. This describes most three-dimensional computer games well. Agents are characters, vehicles, fireballs and power dots. It should not be surprising that many games are now implemented in an object-oriented or loosely object-based programming language, given their agent-based nature. Visit:-

Interactive video games are all temporal simulations. This means that the virtual game world model is dynamic. The state of the world changes as the story and events unfold. Interactive temporal simulations are also required to respond to unpredictable inputs by its human players. Final, video games are interactive simulations that respond in real-time to player input.

A notable exception is the turn-based category, such as computerized chess and non-real time strategy games. Even these games provide some kind of graphical user interface.

What is a Game Engine?

In the mid-1990s, the term “game engine” was used to refer to first-person shooter games such as Doom by id Software. Doom had a well-defined separation between its core components, such as the collision detection system, three-dimensional graphics rendering, and audio system, and the art assets and game worlds that made up the player’s gaming experience. This separation was evident when developers started licensing games and retooling them to create new products. They created new art, world layouts and weapons and characters. The “mod community” was born. This group included individual gamers as well as small independent studios who modified existing games using the free toolkits provided by the original developers. Some games, such as Quake III Arena or Unreal, were created with reuse in mind. Engines became highly customizable using scripting languages such as id’s Quake C. This allowed engine licensing to become a viable second revenue stream for developers who created them. Game developers today have the option to license game engines and reuse large portions of their key software components for games. This practice can still require significant investment in custom software engineering but it can be far more cost-effective than creating all the engine components in-house. It is not always clear what the line is between a game’s engine and its game.

While some engines can clearly distinguish the two, others are less clear. The rendering code may “know” how to draw an orc in one game. Another game might have a rendering engine that provides general-purpose shading and material, while “orc-ness” might be entirely defined in data. It is difficult to distinguish between the engine and the game in a studio. This is because the definitions of the two components change as the game’s design becomes more solid.

A data-driven architecture can be said to distinguish a game engine from software that is not a game, but is still a game. It is difficult to reuse software that has hard-coded logic, game rules, or uses special-case code to render certain types of game objects. The term “game engine” should be reserved for software that can be used as the basis for multiple games.

This is clearly not a binary distinction. Every engine can be considered as having a range of reusability. A game engine could look something like Apple QuickTime or Microsoft Windows Media Player. It would be a universal piece of software that can play virtually all game content. This ideal is not yet possible and may never be. Many game engines are meticulously designed and tuned to run a specific game on a particular hardware platform. Even multiplatform engines with the best intentions can only be used for one genre: first-person shooters and racing games. It is safe to say that a more general-purpose game engine or middleware component will not be optimal for running a specific game on a particular platform.

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