By Karen Moltenbrey and Jenny Donelan
Game graphics appeared as a blip on the computer screen more than 40 years ago, and eventually made their way into the commercial arena by way of television sets with Atari's Pong. When Computer Graphics World was founded during the late-1970s, arcade-style video games with rudimentary images were becoming popular. A decade later, as gaming graphics began to mature, Computer Graphics World was there to report on the innovations. The rest is history.
May 1992 The Legend Quest medieval fantasy game from W. Industries represents a departure from "shoot-'em-up" virtual reality applications into the realm of role playing.
May 1992 Dactyl Nightmare, a virtual reality game from Horizon Enter tainment, immerses the player in a surreal checkerboard world. The game is designed to run on Virtuality VR stations (see below) designed by Horizon and W. Industries.
May 1992 The Virtuality station was developed for commercial VR gaming applica tions in theme parks and arcades.
The station features a headset with a screen for each eye, four speakers, and tracking for head and body movements.
July 1993 Cabdriver Raul taxies game players through a bizarre adventure in Hell Cab: A Time Machine with a Checkered Past. The title from Warner New Media is one of the first to take advantage of newly available CD-ROM technology that allows for larger files and more complex graphics.
July 1993 For a prehistoric jungle scene from Hell Cab, artist and creator Pepe Moreno uses Photoshop for 2D background scenery and Swivel 3D for the dinosaur and some of the foliage.
December 1993 Spiders populate a spooky Gothic mansion, the setting for The 11th Hour, Trilobyte's sequel to its popular 7th Guest game. Autodesk's 3D Studio helps create an authentically grungy and menacing atmosphere for the setting and its inhabitants.
September 1994 The Wrath of the Gods adventure game from Luminaria combines video, animation, and photographs in an interactive story. Footage of the actor playing Daedelus is shot against a greenscreen (inset), then electronically composited against a photographic and CG backdrop.
October 1994 For Star Trek: The Next Generation, A Final Unity, Alias's PowerAnimator software helps create 3D characters and settings that resemble those from the television series on which the game is based.
December 1993 Broderbund Software's Myst sets a new standard for gaming in terms of both story line and imagery. Myst's creators use reflection, refraction, and shadows in raytracing the 2500 images in the game.
October 1997 Lara Croft, created by artists at Core for Tomb Raider, is one of the most popular action stars in gaming. She is modeled and animated in 3D Studio R4, and textured with Photoshop.
July 1997 Gaming AI becomes more sophisticated in titles like Anark's Galapagos. The creature above is based on adaptive technology developed by Anark that gives it the ability to learn and adapt to its surroundings.
February 1998 It takes four years for Cyan to produce Riven, the highly anticipated sequel to Myst. The game's objects, such as the book and sphere on the table [top], are modeled in Softimage 3D, while complex interior lighting, such as for the columns scene [directly above], is handled with mental ray.
October 1999 Mindscape, along with Jordan Mechner, migrates the popular Prince of Persia computer game to the 3D platform, using NewTek's LightWave to build the characters and Motion Factory's Motivate system to achieve the same type of fluid motion found in the previous 2D releases of the game.
December 1999 In the battle of the second-generation consoles, Sega lands the first punch with its Dreamcast, which has a 128-bit architecture that gives it more power than any other console on the market to deliver games like Midway's Ready 2 Rumble. A year later, Sega announces that it will no longer support the Dreamcast, and will instead develop game titles for other platforms.
January 2001 Links DigiWorks pushes the limits of motion capture technology in an opening sequence for Capcom's Onimusha: Warlords for the Sony PlayStation by capturing the movements of six actors simultaneously using a Vicon 8 camera system. For its innovation, Links DigiWorks receives the Best of Show award at the Siggraph 2000 animation festival.
March 2001 Peter Molyneaux's Black and White becomes a leader in a new gaming genre known as god-sim, in which players act as virtual deities in a fantasy world. In the PC-based game from Lionhead Studios, players start with a neutral creature that changes during the course of play to reflect the user's moral choices.
March 2001 Sega's Yu Suzuki and his team create Shenmue, an interactive, cinematic-quality game that's meant to mimic reality-based dramas.
March 2001 Given the power in the new game consoles, titles such as EA Sports' F1 Championship Season 2000 for the PlayStation 2 contain imagery that takes racing game imagery to the next level. Modeled by a former Formula One car designer, the digital cars are exact replicas of the those used on the real track. The texture maps are driven by AI in the game engine to simulate wear and tear during the race.
March 2001 Developers at Oddworld Inhabitants takes advantage of real-time 3D graphics to simulate bizarre lifeforms in Munch's Oddysee, one of the premiere titles for the new Xbox platform from Microsoft.
The game incorporates detailed 3D images within a cinematic context, and simulates full ecosystems and lifecycles that change based on the player's actions.
May 2001 Presto Studios releases Myst III: Exile, which immerses players in beautifully textured lands. Previous versions of the game used a "slide show" style of scene viewing, whereas Myst III gives users the ability to pan 360 degrees in a scene.