Evolution of arcade games Arcade games started from a humble title, Pong, and then went on to become a rage. The games primarily evolved around a simplistic design and raw game play. The newer arcade games made the use of immense leaps in the graphic technology. The arcade games were designed to be played with a group of friends in pubs, malls and restaurants. These days arcade games are more than isolated gaming sessions. Arcade games have numerous communities and clans committed to keeping the tradition. The arcade games later appeared on home consoles. They started out as redemption games, pinball machines and video games. The popularity suffered as the arcades were labeled as seedy, unsafe places. They saw resurgence with the advent of the "two players fighting each other" games such as Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. But, then, again the game consoles and PC’s with 3d accelerator cards successfully dwarfed the advantage arcade games enjoyed. The success of arcade games over the previous generation of home computer was the ability to customize and use the newest graphics and sound cards. The steep decline ensured that they could no longer fund their technologies. By late 90’s the internet made matters worse for the arcades. The human to human competition was taken to a newer level. Since then, the arcade games have been ported to other consoles and emulated on PC’s. Today the online arcade games have a huge fan following with thousands of tournaments being held online every year. The online arcade games are evolving at a fast pace and the arcade world visualizes an altogether different future for the industry.
Old School Arcade Titles On Consoles Porting classic arcade games into consoles has become the latest rage in the gaming industry. The trend clearly affirms the fact that arcade games are not dead. The gamers are not an elderly bunch of people who grew up on these titles. Kids are also addicted to it. The games have been revamped graphically but never shed the addictive game play which, of course, is the part and parcel of every game. Arcade games have not been graphically interesting, but this move successfully negates the fact that the popularity of a game largely depends on its game play and not seemingly awe-inspiring graphics. This phenomenon has also triggered a resurrection of arcade games and made it popular among online gamers. Arcade games are also being ported into handheld consoles like PSP. This clearly indicates the popularity of arcade gaming. Some of the ported titles are: Geometry Wars - The game was a classic when it was released back in 80’s. The upgrade features high end particle physics, digital sound, new special effects, a new scrolling area and high end graphics. It is set in the far reaches of the galaxy where you battle hordes of vile, neon blazoned aliens. It also lets you choose between the old version and the updated version. Pac-man - The all time classic has been upgraded with high definition graphics. The game still retains the original game play and the charming retro look. The newer version features 250 levels of pure action packed fun. The game retains the original music and sound score that the fans remember so well.
Arcade Games Key Features Arcade games have short learning curves and simple levels. These games have been designed to inject the quick bursts of adrenaline rushes; unlike the console games which are about in-depth game play and well scripted story lines. Apparently, the reason being that a player is essentially renting an arcade game for as long as their virtual entity stays alive. The game titles in PC’s or consoles can also be termed as the ‘arcade game’ if it shares the same qualities. The arcade racing games feature a simplified physics engine and preserve certain action. The effects are not always pragmatic; as you can turn sharply without drifting or losing control. Arcade racing games used a simple Rubberband A. I. system. The system is programmed so that you don’t get left far behind or move ahead of the rest. Arcade flight games are highly simplified when compared to flight simulators. These games are facing a steady resurgence with people increasingly favoring action over reality. The recent success of games like Crimson Tide and Secret weapons over Normandy attest this phenomenon. The simple game play also makes the arcade games super addictive. Arcade classics like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and King of Fighters were built on simple game play. They were often related to mindless thrashing of the joystick and buttons. Even newer titles like Tekken and Dead or Alive with highly detailed game play and graphics are unable to overthrow these classics.
Classic Online Arcade Games The most popular online games are Pac-man, Pong, Bejeweled and Street Fighter. These games have a timeless virtue that keeps them alive even in today’s world of hi-definition graphics and sophisticated game play. Joust Joust is a classic arcade game that puts you in the role of a knight with a lance while mounted on an ostrich. The game screen is a simple static screen with five platforms hanging in mid air. The enemies come in wave after wave from the one end of the screen. They appear at the screens in four different spawn points. To destroy an enemy knight one has to collide with the knight at a higher position. Donkey Kong Donkey Kong was released by Nintendo. The game was the pioneer in the platform genre as the game play basically revolved around maneuvering. The main character comes across a series of platforms while dodging various obstacles. The hero of the game and a giant ape named Donkey Kong has become the most popular game characters. Despite an initial slow down, the game went on to become a tremendous success. Consequently, the game was developed for personal consoles. Crimson skies Crimson Skies is an arcade flight game developed by FASA. The game was released as a flight simulator with an arcade touch. Flight control scheme is fairly simple. The take off and landing are completely automated. Players can choose from a fleet of fighters, all loaded with magnetic rockets and Tesla coils. The game has recently been released on Xbox.
Design and Programming for Online Arcade games The arcade games were born in coin operated machines. The strong point of the arcade games was that they were based on a commodity technology. Coin operated arcade games used custom made hardware powered by multiple CPU’s, specialized sound and graphic boards. The design simplicity of these games enabled the programmers to spend more time into enhancing the basics of game play. This resulted in the conception of some of the best games ever designed. The arcade games of the earlier years had a clever way of disguising their graphical limitation. A fine example is Atari’s Night Driver, the first racing game to deliver a ‘first’ person perspective, and also showing the road as seen from the cockpit. The night theme was an ingenious choice as it negated the need to create perceptible complicated images. The Night Driver’s concept of ‘scaling’ flat images called ‘sprites’ to stimulate a 3d movement was a cult design basis for most 3d games. Once these games were ported to PC, they were designed with Flash, Java and DHTML. The online arcade games that are programmed on Flash are built around the vector graphics file format. The design simplicity never dwarfed the game play. This was, perhaps, the most probable reason for the immense resilience in these games. Even as the arcade games incorporated newer gadgets, light guns and dance mats to draw in the crowd, the people got stuck in the good old button mashing delight.
Game play in online arcade games The basic strength of most of the online arcade games is its simple yet addictive game play. The fact that most of these games had a minimalist graphic design allowed its designers to concentrate more on improving the game play. Arcade games have good ‘game mechanics’. The games are essentially created to promote an atmosphere of fun. Arcade games have an easy learning curve which attracts people of all ages. The most successful arcade games have been the fighter series which include Street fighter, King of Fighters, Mortal Kombat and Fatal Fury. These games survived purely on their intense game play which involves a rapid carnage of joystick and the buttons. Yet, they went on to become the base for more sophisticated games like Dead or Alive. Arcade Games like Tetris and Bejeweled involved game play that required one to rack their brains in order to succeed. These games have entertainment as well as the mental development quotient to them. The intense game play that these games boost is what makes them a favorite even in the intensely competitive gaming industry. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 comes pre-loaded with an arcade puzzle game, Hexic HD. Most of the Xbox Live arcade games have multiplayer support over Xbox Live. The arcade gaming fans can certainly look forward to more titles coming their way on the Xbox 360. Sony’s PSP is also releasing revamped models of old classics hoping to capture the handheld market.
Online Arcade Gaming Community The success of online arcade gaming can be attributed to the huge number of dedicated online communities that support arcade games. These games have stood their ground at a time when technological advances have paved way for hardcore graphic systems capable of rendering movie like graphics. The online community regularly conducts tourneys for arcade games with huge prize money at stake. Xbox Live conducted a Pac-man championship in New York in May of 2007. Nine finalists from around the world fought each other for a one of a kind Pac-man inspired Xbox 360 console, 100,000 Microsoft points, and a Pac-Man Live Arcade Trophy. Finalists were selected based on scores of Xbox LIVE Arcade leader box from Japan, USA, Europe, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, Canada and Mexico. The primary reason for a spurt in the online arcade community is the rise of a huge number of multiplayer arcade games. Arcade games are from another era that is hard pressed to survive an intense competition. This is the primary reason for the close knit nature of arcade gaming communities. The resurgence of arcade titles on consoles and handhelds is another reason for the growing arcade communities. The online arcade communities have made sure that arcade games are here to stay. Arcade games have shown an immense resilience surviving everything from consoles to the Internet. The arcade communities have played a huge part in seeing the genre through the hardest of times. With the advent of internet, these communities saw a massive rise in numbers. These communities are closely knitted and work as a single entity when it comes to competing game genres.
A. I. System in Arcade Games The first arcade games were built on discrete logic and were strictly based on competition between the players. Therefore, there wasn't any A. I. system. Heuristic algorithms have been used in the arcade games. The common method of controlling an NPC in the game was by scripting. 'Path finding' is another common A. I. system that has been used in the real time strategy games. 'Path finding' works by calculating how to get an NPC from one place to another after considering the terrain and obstacles. Games like Quake and Pursuit based all the enemy actions on particular stored patterns. The space invaders further refined this movement, by adding in-game events which were dependent on the hash functions. This resulted in more varied and complex enemy movements. Pac-Man incorporated this technology, at the same time jazzing it up by providing different personalities for each ghosts. Although the ghost movements in Pac-Man felt random, it was a cleverly scripted and well disguised action. The 1990's saw the emergence of finite state machines. The arcade racing games were powered by a 'rubber banding' A. I. system. If the computer controlled the opponents "fall behind", they received a superb boost allowing them to catch up. The system too, works the other way around, enabling the human players to catch up if they fall behind. The arcade shooting games should ideally have a large rule base which is basically the list of NPC options like attack long range, call for help, flee etc. The trick lies in using a random factor to choose from this base factor. This has displayed an enhanced feeling of intellect and developed the fun factor.
The Pac-Man Syndrome Pac - man was created by Toru Itwani and licensed by Namco. The game was centered on an old Japanese folk tale. The object of the game was simply to move through a maze, while gobbling the dots and avoiding ghosts. Pac Man was a tear away success spawning a cult in its wake. It was picked up for production in the US by Midway. Pac-man was a nice breakaway for gamers bored with an extreme dose of space invaders. The game soon went on to strip ‘Asteroids’ as the greatest selling game of all time. Game play The player maneuvers the protagonist through a maze eating dots. The game proceeds to the next level once all the dots are eaten. There are four ghosts which roam around the maze trying to catch Pac-man who is the character maneuvered by the player. If the ghosts touch Pac-man, a life is lost. The game ends when no lives remain. At the corners of the maze there are four power ups. These power-ups render Pac-man a short-timed ability to gobble up the ghosts. Once a ghost is eaten, it returns to the ghost pen where it is revived. The regeneration time for the ghosts shortens as the game advances through the stages. Despite the seemingly randomness movement of the ghosts, their nature is strictly deterministic. This allows experienced players to devise precise patterns of movement that enables them to complete levels without being caught ever. The simplicity of the game and the adrenaline rush it created, when a ghost came near transformed this game into an addiction. Unofficially, it is the most played game of all time.
Rise of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games A new phenomenon in the online arcade gaming industry is the rise of MMORPG (Rise of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Several thousands of players share a common environment and fight each other for glory. Multiplayer online gaming is the newest rage with programmers. Almost every game is designed to include a multi-player option. Arcade games have shown an ability to overcome numerous obstacles in its 40yrs of existence. It was pretty obvious it would win the war with the Internet. The arcade industry responded to the growing threat of multiplayer games on internet by coming up with games of their own. Like they say "if you can’t beat them join them!" Common Arcade Games Lunia is an action packed arcade MMORPG that combines the classic RPG elements like character growth and community system with intense paced action. The game has breathtaking environments and takes you through eerie dungeons and abandoned castles. Anarchy Online is a science fiction MMORPG arcade game that’s hugely popular and won 20 international awards. The game allows for unmatched character customization, hundreds of devastating special attacks and thousands of items. The game sets up a hyper fast game play with more action and less camping. The Anarchy online has a well scripted deep story line. The game lets you play as a soldier, healer, tech expert, trader or adventurer. The game features stunning environments with clubs, bars and apartments. Anarchy online gives you the option of fighting thousands of monsters or challenge human opponents in Player vs. Player areas.