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Video Games


The only thing that makes PONG fun to play is human error. ... the computer to actually learn how to play by watching how I play, or rather ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Video Games

Video Games
  • 1987
  • Nintendo's hold on the market grows, leaving
    little room for Sega and Atari.
  • Nintendo releases The Legend of Zelda, Kid
    Icarus, and Metroid offering better graphics than
    the initial launch titles and longer quests.
  • NEC releases the PC-Engine in Japan and
    advertises it as a 16-bit machine. In reality,
    the machine contains an 8-bit processor and a
    16-bit graphics processor.

Tetris Troubles
  • 1988
  • Atari Games creates a subsidiary, Tengen, that
    produces games for home consoles including the
    NES. Atari Games takes Nintendo to court,
    claiming that Nintendo has an illegal monopoly on
    the video game industry. Specifically, they
    claim this is achieved via illegal practices,
    such as fixing prices and using lockout to
    prohibit unlicensed development of NES software.
  • Tengen discovers a way to bypass the NES lockout
    and announces that it will develop, manufacturer,
    and distribute NES-compatible games without
    Nintendo's authorization.
  • 1989
  • Tengen acquires the rights to distribute the home
    version of Tetris from Mirrorsoft. The trouble
    is, Mirrorsoft did not own the rights in the
    first place.
  • Nintendo acquires the legitimate home rights to
    Tetris and forces the Tengen version off of

The media problem. . .
  • 1989
  • NEC also releases a 400 portable CD player that
    attaches to the TurbroGrafx-16 and plays games
    that are stored on compact discs. TG16 sales
    are poor for a number of reasons.
  • Lets look at why we want to move away from
  • Cartridges are circuit based (remember circuits
    are fast and expensive).
  • Each cartridge contains ROM (physical memory),
    and ROM is expensive
  • The larger games get the more memory we need in
    the cartridge
  • We can not reuse the cartridges memory
  • ? Manufacturing costs are high!

Moving to CDROM
  • Cartridges are primary memory, CDs arent
  • Cartridge access is fast
  • we can get read program data from carts directly
  • CD access is slow
  • We cant read program data directly from the CD
    (we need to put it in primary memory first!
  • well need some RAM connected to our CD rom
    interface so we can read data off the CD as our
    system needs it.

Primary Memory
Primary Memory
Primary Memory
Secondary Memory
dont copy that floppyerr cartridge
  • Piracy in the console world . . .
  • All games up until now are stored on these read
    only memory cartridges
  • What if we have a RAM-based cartridge instead of
    a ROM based cartridge, then I copy whatever I
    want onto the RAM cartridge.
  • Further, what if I can read the contents of the
    ROM cartridges and save them (they are just bits
    after all)
  • NES games tended to be quite small
  • SNES/Genesis games averaged 1MByte
  • And thus the console-copier is born
  • Introducing an otherwise safe computer world
    to digital piracy
  • fortunately, piracy of cartridge based games was
    fairly uncommon in the US
  • required expensive and obscure hardware

16-bit players emerge
  • 1989
  • Sega releases the truly 16-bit system, Genesis,
    in the US. The 249 system is packed with a
    conversion of the arcade game Altered Beast.
    Marketing efforts stress the system as a true
    arcade experience better than previous home game
    machines. Sales are slow.
  • 1990
  • Nintendo releases Super Mario 3. The NES enjoys
    its best year despite its more powerful
  • Meanwhile Nintendo of Japan unveils the Super
    Famicom, a 16-bit system with better audio and 3D
    graphics capabilities than either the Genesis and

Forget 16-bits, how about 24?
  • 1990
  • Nintendo and Blockbuster go to court over video
    game rentals. Nintendo would obviously like to
    block game rentals, as they dissuade people from
    buying games. The courts decide in favor of
  • now if we could only copy those games . . . Oh
  • SNK releases the 24-bit NeoGeo in arcade and home
    formats. The graphics and sound are far beyond
    any competitor, but the 400 retail price (with
    no game included) and 200 per game severely
    limits the NeoGeos sales. Each cartridge
    actually contained 4 circuit boards bound
    together to create cartridges in the neighborhood
    of 256Megabit (or 64Megabytes).

Alright, alright, 16-bits it is.
  • 1991
  • Nintendo releases the Super Famicom in America
    under the name Super NES (SNES).
  • Sega unveils Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis.

  • The 16-bit wars are on!
  • Platformers a.k.a. jump and run games are the
  • How do we make a platform game . . ?

What goes into platform games
  • Lets make our own game!
  • StickMan will run around and jump over pits in
    the ground. When bad guys chase him he can jump
    on their heads to stun them.
  • What do we need?
  • Individual bitmap graphics for each frame of
    animation corresponding to all the different
    states that stickman could be in. The more
    frames in the animation, the more realistic
    things will look.
  • Jumping, running, walking, getting hurt, dead,
  • Well also need to keep track of the users input
    and update his state accordingly (we cant duck
    if were in the middle of a jump, and we cant
    run in mid air, for example.)
  • We need to know where on the screen stickman is,
    and where the bad guys are.
  • We need to design the levels and store
    information about them (whats floor and whats a
    pit) and well need graphics for the levels.
    When the game is running, well need to draw the
    part of the level that StickMan is in, and keep
    track of when StickMan has fallen into a pit.
  • Well need graphics for the bad guys too, and we
    need to keep track where they are, and what
    theyre doing!
  • Finally, what about score, health, music, sound.
    . ?

Level designmaps of the world
Y 0 X
_ character start pos.
  • _ YYY Y

  • 11
    Backdrop graphics
    putting it all together

    why we need all those bits
    • Lets imagine a very simplified processing loop
    • while (playingTRUE)
    • read_controller_input()
    • update_character()
    • for each opponent_on_screen
    • update_opponent()
    • update_opponents_off_screen()
    • redraw_screen()
    • playing NOT(character_dead OR game_complete)

    • Now, what if I have 20 enemies on the screen?
      30? 40?
    • We want to get through this loop as fast as
      possible, but
    • when there are lots of enemies on the screen the
      cpu will take longer in the update_opponent loop.
      As a result, if the processor is slow, the game
      will experience slow-down -- because it cant
      redraw as often because it needs to do more work
      before it can draw.
    • Moreover, what if I want my computer enemies to
      be smart I mean really smart.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    • AI has lots of very useful applications, but
      lets focus on AI in gaming for now. In some
      games, we will have opponents and wed like to
      consider virtual opponents (or computerized
      opponents) that are actually a program
      (collection of algorithms) running on the
    • Wed like our computer opponents to be smart
      but believably smart. What does it mean for a
      computer to be smart
    • Alan Turing devised a machine intelligence test -
      the Turing Test
    • Intended to establish the intelligence of the
    • more accurately, it tests the computers ability
      to simulate human conversation and understanding
    • In general form
    • A person and a computer program are seperated
      from an interrogator.
    • The interrogator types in a question to either
    • By observing responses, the interrogators goal
      was to correctly identify the computer.
    • If the computer could fool the interrogator as
      often as the person did, it could be said that
      the computer had displayed intelligence.
    • This test requires more work than the limited
      domain were considering e.g., understanding
      the semantics and meaning of language is very
      hard. In gaming, we have a fixed set of rules,
      an environment, and some understanding about
      positive outcomes and negative outcomes.

    Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    • Gaming AI usually consists of what is called
      Expert Systems or Rule-Based Systems
    • Expert Systems are a collections of if-then rules
      that describe situations that may occur and what
      action to take in response
    • Acquisition - Must be some way of putting
      information or knowledge into the system
    • Organizing information about the objects in the
    • Retrieval - Must be able to find knowledge when
      it is wanted or needed.
    • Brute-force search - Looks at every possible
      solution before choosing among them.
    • well see a game example in which the program
      searches through all the possible moves and then
      selects the best.
    • Sometimes, we cant search every possible
      outcome, because there are too many outcomes to
      analyze so well use rules Heuristics to reduce
      the number of scenarios we need to consider
    • Reasoning - Must be able to use that knowledge
      through thinking or reasoning.
    • The ability to leverage existing rules and
      generate new associations We take this to mean
      the system can build upon the information that we
      currently have.

    AI in games
    Artificial Intelligence (AI)
    • PONG
    • We really only need one rule Move my paddle to
      the same height as the ball
    • The only thing that makes PONG fun to play is
      human error.
    • hit the ball with lower probability when set to
      easy and higher probability when set to hard.
    • Chess
    • To use brute force, chess game tree would have
      10120 possible moves.
    • Uses Chess specific rules to prune down the
      number of combinations we consider
    • Also examine a few plays ahead instead of all the
      ways to the end of the game.
    • Deep Blue (1996) by IBM - Garry Kasparov,
      world-champion chess player, won over Deep Blue 4
      points to 2.
    • Deep Blue (1997) by IBM - Garry Kasparov conceded
      victory to Deep Blue, 3.5 points to 2.5.
    • Quake Deathmatch
    • Premise You run around in 3D trying to kill the
      opponents with guns.
    • the computer opponent plays by the same rules
      (vulnerable, not omniscient, etc)
    • targeting of the computer player isnt subject to
      human error (could have 100 accuracy).
    • computer can react to your actions immediately
      and sidestep rockets with ease.
    • Again, probability will make our opponent more
    • But, what if we want the computer to actually
      learn how to play by watching how I play, or
      rather watch how I play and learn my weaknesses,
      that requires more work

    If the computer is too smart, cheat!
    • 1991
    • Galoob Toys releases the Game Genie, which lets
      players cheat in NES games. Nintendo attempts
      to prevent Game Genie sales. Why?
    • How does the game genie work??
    • Remember, console systems are computers, the data
      for the game is stored in bits, retrieved from
      the cartridge memory
    • Imagine a block of memory is used for, say,
      Links health. Some string of 16-bits is your
      health, how would you identify which bits are the
    • Dump the entire contents of memory with 3 health
    • 0000 0000 0000 0110
    • Dump the entire contents of memory with 2½
      health hearts and compare
    • 0000 0000 0011 0101
    • Dump the contents of memory with 1 health heart
      and compare
    • 0000 0000 0000 0010
    • So, we think we know where the health string is.
      Now, lets prevent
    • that value from changing and Link is invincible!

    negotiation, rumor, and a jaguar
    • 1991
    • Sony and Nintendo announce plans for Sony to
      develop a 700 CD player to work with the
      SNES/Famicom. The device will be called the
    • Capcom releases Street Fighter II. Teenagers
      flock to play Street Fighter II, and demand for
      the game leads arcades to purchase multiple
      machines. Fighting games take the helm as the
      new it-game. Suddenly everyone is making
      fighting games.
    • 1992
    • Negotiations between Sony and Nintendo fall apart
      due to a disagreement about CD game profits.
      Sony decides they will go on with a 32-bit video
      game system of their own.
    • 1993
    • Atari decides to bypass the 32-bit generation and
      go right ahead to 64 bits. The company launches
      the Jaguar, which Atari proclaims to be the first
      64-bit game console due to its 64-bit system bus.
      The processor isnt really 64 bit, but thats
      the least of the machines problems.
    • Nintendo and Sega announce their next-generation
      systems. Nintendo's Project Reality is a 64-bit
      system developed by Silicon Graphics. Sega's
      Saturn will be a 32- or 64-bit system.

    more on video game violence
    • 1993
    • Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herbert Kohl launch
      a Senate "investigation" into video game
      violence, intent to establish a ban on "violent"
      games (Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, etc). They
      eventually concede to an industry-wide rating
    • 1994
    • The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is
      established to rate video games. Large letter
      icons appear on game boxes to let consumers know
      the recommended age of players for each game and
      what factors lead to the games rating (violence,
      adult themes, etc).

    do we really need ratings?
    1974, Leatherface for Atari VCS
    • "Grab your joystick and become "Leatherface," the
      homicidal, chainsaw wielding maniac of your
      nightmares! A group of hapless tourists have
      trespassed on your property. One by one, they've
      been hunted down and eliminated. Now, only a
      handful remain! So, oil up your chainsaw and find
      as many victims as you can before your fuel runs
    • The player controls Leatherface and his whirring
      chainsaw. Computer-controlled victims flee in
      terror as you pursue them. Beware of the
      obstacles in your way--cow skulls, fences,
      wheelchairs, and thickets. At the top of the
      screen is the number of fuel tanks left, and a
      gauge indicating the amount of gas left in the
      chainsaw. At the bottom of the screen is the
      score display.
    • Using your joystick, move Leatherface in the
      desired direction and try to overtake your
      victim. When you're close enough, press the
      joystick button once to rev up the chainsaw and
      eliminate your quarry. Caution The chainsaw is
      always idling, using only small amounts of gas.
      Revving the motor quickly drains your fuel.
      Therefore, be sure you are in range before you
      press the button. Leatherface starts the game
      with three tanks of gas, so conserve your fuel."

    1988, Namcos Splatterhouse
    the ESRB
    • The Entertainment Software Ratings Board is the
      video game industry's answer to dealing with
      these complicated issues
    • Rather than explicitly dictating or regulating
      what games can and can't be made, instead they've
      adopt a rating system (ala the movie industry)
    • A game publisher submits representative footage
      of their game to the ESRB and fills out a
    • independent testers at the ESRB view the footage
      and determine the rating, which is printed on the
    • EVERYONE (E) 6
    • EVERYONE (E10) 10
    • TEEN (T) 13
    • MATURE (M) 17
    • ADULTS ONLY (AO) 18

    polygons galore
    • 1994
    • 3D polygonal games become the new it-game in the
      arcades. 3D rendered driving, flying, and
      fighting games are exceedingly popular.
    • The computation in such games requires intensive
      math (to compute manipulation of objects in 3D
      space) and as such the CPUs in the SNES and
      Genesis arent up to snuff. Anxious to fend off
      the new more powerful machines (Jaguar and
    • Nintendo releases the Super-FX chip (a fast
      matrix math chip) in their 3D cartridge games
      (such as Star Fox). This makes SuperFX games
      more expensive to manufacture, and somewhat
      wasteful (as each SuperFX game has the same chip
      in it, which should be in the system.
    • Sega goes a different route and places their fast
      matrix math chip in a pass-through cartridge, and
      as a result the games can be cheaper. The
      device, called the 32X, allows the Genesis to run
      new special 32-bit cartridge games. Segas
      arcade polygonal games, Virtua Racing and Star
      Wars, and a port of id Software's Doom all
      receive good reviews, but a stiff price tag on
      the 32X to enable a small number of games cause
      the devices success to suffer.
    • All in all, these solutions are really just hacks
      remember, a hack is slang for causing a device
      to do something it wasnt intended to do
    • The next round of systems will include the 3D
      related math processing on board theyll be
      optimized for 3D performance out of the box.
    • Further, full-motion video and digitized sound
      are coming into fashion in a big way. Its not
      economical to store a lot of data on cartridges,
      so the push to CD based games will be a key issue.

    The 64ish-bit generation
    • 1995
    • The Sega Saturn is released early and overall
      sales are very low. Very few titles are released
      at launch and third party manufacturers havent
      had enough time to produce games so there is an
      awkward lag between the system release and the
      release of titles. Games are released on CDROM.
    • Nintendos next generation console (initially
      Project Reality, now called Ultra 64), is not yet
      ready for release. They decide to tide everyone
      over with the release of the Virtual Boy, a 3D
      32-bit "portable" game console besides not being
      portable the system isnt any good.
    • Sony takes its first foray into the console
      world and releases their PlayStation in the
      United States. Sales are strong, and a collection
      of good release titles receives praise from the
      media and consumers. Games are released on
    • 1996
    • Early in the year Nintendos Ultra 64 is renamed
      to the the Nintendo 64. The 64-bit game system is
      demonstrated at their Japanese trade show. Super
      Mario 64 is demonstrated and playable. It
      impresses gamers, but rumors persist that very
      little software is in development for the
      machine. The system will use cartridges, which
      most developers consider a big mistake. Some
      pictures emerge showing several SGI computers
      under the table where the N64 is supposedly
      running live leading to rumors that Nintendo is
      pulling a fast-one and that the N64 is vapor-ware.

    Big in 3D
    Why go to CDROM based games?
    • The move from cartridge based distribution to CDs
      is enticing to developers and distributors. CD
      games are no cheaper to develop, but much cheaper
      to manufacture.
    • CD drives are pretty cheap and pretty fast, so
      its possible to include them in the next
      generation of console games.
    • Consumers generally view CDROM games as the
      future, and that a system with games on CD is
      inherently better.
    • Finally the cost-per-megabyte ratio is much
      better on CDs than on Carts so more information
      (video and audio) can be included.
    • BUT Copy protection was a mild problem for US
      companies in the cartridge world, but pirates
      needed hard to obtain specialized hardware to
      copy games. The move to CDs coupled with the
      increasing prevalence of CD-Recordable drives
      will pose a wide spread copy-protection problem
      and well thought strategies for preventing
      copying of games
    • Remember video games are computers, and they run
      programs with cartridges, there is no complexity
      -- were directly connecting memory into the
      system. These new CD based systems will resemble
      new computers even more, and need to have
      built-in programs to read the CDs to launch the
      games (BIOS).
    • The BIOS program on these systems will not be
      flash-able, and will ensure that the CD in the
      CDROM drive is an original game.

    PlayStation is 1
    • 1996
    • The N64 is finally released in United States.
      More than 1.7 million units are sold in first
      three months of the systems release.
      Third-party developers rush to re-embrace the
      cartridge medium. At this point, the PlayStation
      has been selling for over a year, giving the
      system a head start. The N64 sells well for a
      number of reasons, including a strong brand
    • Sony sales are said to top 12 million per day
      through the holiday shopping season. The
      PlayStation firmly establishes itself as the
      number-one next-generation game console. The
      video game industry has a highly profitable year.
    • Nintendo puts the Virtual Boy out of its misery.
    • 1997
    • Sony releases figures in April that prove the
      PlayStation is the most popular gaming system in
      the world. The figures show that 5 million units
      have been sold in Japan, 4 million in the United
      States, and 2.2 million in Europe. These numbers
      nearly double four months later, when the 20
      millionth unit is sold. Analysts believe the
      PlayStation's popularity will carry it through
    • Figures also start to indicate a new trend. The
      age of the average video-gamer is increasing . .
    • Sony releases the 750 Yaroze in the United
      States. The Yaroze lets users design
      PlayStation-compatible games on their home
    • Bandai releases the Tamagotchi in the United
      States in May. F.A.O. Schwartz, the first US
      store to offer it, and sells out its stock of
      30,000 in just three days. Bandai announces PC
      and Game Boy versions. Before long, other
      companies release their own virtual pets. The
      Tamaochi is based on a domain in Artificial
      Intelligence called Artificial Life (a-life)

    processors gone wild
    • 1998
    • Emulation (in this context) Simulating some
      physical device(s) via software.
    • Applied to video games, the processors in the
      state of the art personal computers are markedly
      faster than those in the Atari VCS, Coleco,
      classic arcade games, NES, etc. So much so that
      they can now perform tasks in software as fast as
      the older systems did with hardware.
    • So, clever programmers write software to emulate
      the physical hardware of these systems. The
      emulator is a program capable of running the
      original program code intended for a different
      computer. The program can interpret the
      instructions of another processor and acts just
      as the original machines would by translating
      the calls from the original console system to run
      on the computer (example draw to a window
      instead to the TV). As such the original games
      can run on the emulator with no modification
      necessary and present an exact replica of the
      original game experience.
    • Of course, in order for this to work, people need
      to have the original software games. These games
      tend to be referred to as ROM images.
    • Emulation is a major topic of discussion
      throughout the video game industry, and the IDSA
      goes to great lengths to shut down Web sites that
      offer ROM images even though the specific
      legality of emulation and ROM images is not yet
      firmly established (in 1998).

    make them faster!
    • 1999
    • Rumors of a Microsoft made video game system
      begin to emerge, though Microsoft initially
      denies the rumors.
    • Sega releases Dreamcast although
      technologically sound, and touting VirtuaFighter
      3 with the systems launch, the DreamCast will
      eventually fall to the Playstations staying power
      and rumours of a Playstation sequel from Sony
      soon to come.
    • Emulation advances to the point that PlayStation
      games are playable on personal computers! Sony
      is in part worried about Playstation systems
      sales, though theyre also concerned of the
      increased potential to remove copy protection
      constraints. Connectix Corporation introduces
      the 149 Virtual Game Station, which will play
      emulated PlayStation games on the Macintosh. A
      company called Bleem introduces a PlayStation
      emulator for Windows based personal computers.
      Bleem! is available for 19.95. Sony makes
      several attempts to halt shipments but fails.

    NIB PS2 PlayStation2 Mint 1200
    • 2000
    • Microsoft officially announces the XBOX.
      Although Microsoft is somewhat secretive about
      the details, it is clear that the system will be
      based on Microsoft software technology.
    • Sega starts the first Internet Service for a home
      console for their Dreamcast. The Dreamcast is
      the first video game console to allow online
      interactive game play.
    • Sega releases Jet Grind Radio for the Dreamcast.
      JGR is the industrys first Cell-Shaded game.
      Cell-shading is a technique used to make 3D
      rendered images look like hand-drawn cartoon
    • Sony announces, last minute, that they will not
      be able to ship their original figure of
      one-million PlayStation 2s to the United States.
      Claiming a shortage of raw materials. Sony
      announces the initial shipment will be 500,000
      units and that they will ship 100,000 units per
      week to the US until the end of the year. This
      causes a huge problem for retailers who have
      pre-sold many units to consumers expecting to
      receive their unit on the release date. The
      PlayStation 2 becomes the hot console of the year
      simply because its hard to get. New unopened
      PlayStation 2s go for as high as 1,200 on eBay.
      (Mine hit 800). The system features games on
      DVD and can serve as a DVD movie player out of
      the box!

    3D for everything!
    New challengers
    • 2001
    • With the Dreamcast failing to get a reasonable
      market share, rumors that Sega will leave the
      hardware business and focus on software.
    • The US Department of Defense licenses the Rainbow
      Six Rogue Spear game engine for tactical
      training exercises.
    • Microsoft officially launches the XBOX. Based on
      generic PC architecture, Microsoft doesnt build
      the console at all instead, they outsource
      construction of the console. The console comes
      with a 733Mhz Celeron CPU, NVidia GPU, 8GByte
      hard drive, USB ports for controllers, and
      built-in Ethernet port. In less than a month,
      Microsoft ships 1.1 million units to retailers.
      The most popular launch title, Halo, had been
      in development for years for the Apple Macintosh
      when Microsoft decided to buy the development
      company (Bungie).
    • Nintendo's GameCube is released. The small
      cube-shaped console uses propriety discs based on
      DVD technology and is priced 100 less than the
      XBOX and PS2. Because the size and format DVD
      movies can not be played on the system and the
      total storage capacity of the disc is less than
      that of the PS2 and XBOX.

    • 2001
    • Grand Theft Auto III (Rated M) comes out late in
      the year exclusively for the PS2 and (despite
      criticism and controversy) critics love it.
    • The game offers a complete interactive
      environment (Liberty City), complete with cars,
      NPCs, and little hidden goodies for the player to
      explore. Although the overal game is linear, the
      character has multiples goals, flexibility in
      accomplishing them, and many smaller optional
    • Despite many attempts to pin
    • increased violence on the game, the
    • game is clearly rated M and stores
    • should not be selling it to kids.
    • 2002
    • GTAIII sweeps nearly all the major
    • video game awards

    Sega out, Microsoft in.
    • 2002
    • A bug in the Dreamcast bios is found, allowing
      copied games to be played by creating a special
      boot-disc which can also be copied! This seems
      to be final nail in the coffin for Sega hardware
      and they announce their exit of the hardware
      business and become third-party-developers.
    • Microsoft does not see the sales figures theyd
      hope and the losses incurred by the XBOX division
      are blamed for some fluctuation in Microsoft
      stock value. Microsoft clearly intends to get
      their foot in the door (or rather, their software
      on the TV) and starts throwing even more money at
      the problem (reducing the price of the unit
    • Meanwhile hackers start trying to compromise the
      XBOX succeed in a method to allow the XBOX to run
      Linux as a relatively powerful and very
      inexpensive computer.
    • Nintendo also slashes GameCube prices, but it
      still has a hard time playing catch up against
      the entrenched PS2. More mature players and the
      lack of DVD movie support are blamed for the lack
      of sales.

    Console games go on-line
    • 2001
    • Sega becomes the first company to offer broadband
      Internet support with its high-speed Ethernet
      adapter for the Dreamcast. Quake III Arena and
      Unreal Tournament are among the first games to
      support the device. Sega also releases Phantsy
      Star Online, the first online role playing game
      for console systems.
    • 2002
    • Sony releases their Broadband Adapter allowing
      online play of certain online enabled games.
      The adapter allows modem or broadband users to
      connect their PS2 to other gamers PS2s via the
      Internet for multiplayer action.
    • 2003
    • Microsoft launches their own online service, XBOX
      Live. The service has a monthly cost and as such
      several third-party-developers decide to withhold
      online functionality for the XBOX versions of
      their games. The service is rumored to detect if
      a user has modified their XBOX in any way and
      will report this to Microsoft.

    No time like the present
    • 2003
    • Microsoft finally seems to hit a sweet spot in
      both price and new game titles just as the
      hardware limitations of the PS2 are encountered.
      New XBOX games show graphical improvements over
      the same titles available on PS2 and the XBOX is
      gaining new popularity. Microsoft has slashed
      prices again this holiday season offering a
      system, two controllers, three games and two
      months of XBOX-Live for 180.
    • While the GameCube also offers advantages over
      the PS2, Nintendo is having a harder time turning
      things around, though they hope with their latest
      price reduction (99 w/ game!) that theyll move
      units this holiday season.
    • In Europe the EyeToy for PS2 is the industrys
      first computer vision peripheral.
    • 2004
    • The EyeToy device is released in the US and is
      available for 50 w/ game.
    • Despite repeated failures in the handheld
      markets, the big players are gearing up for new
      expensive handheld products
    • 2005
    • XBOX 360 is released in November, bucking the
      new every 5 trend by one year. I has a
      multitasking Operating System (!?) and it, as do
      all next generation consoles (PS3, etc) promises
      more computing power than we could conceivably
      need for just video games -)