Advancing Computer Game Technology

In 2005, we’ve had the release of two highly anticipated computer games: Doom 3 and Half-Life 2. These two games were highly anticipated for a couple of reasons. For starters, they looked brilliant and exciting. Fans of the Doom series were itching with excitement at the prospect of an updated, new, and graphically beautiful version of their beloved Doom. Fans of Half Life were aching to learn more about the mysteries of the first game, and to explore the large and interactive new game. The second reason that these games were anticipated was their revolutionary graphics. While gamers will debate without rest about which game has better graphics, most come to agreement in saying that both games are at the top of the computer game technology ladder.

While Doom 3’s selling point ended up being solely it’s flashy graphics, Half-Life 2 had a bit more to offer. In addition to amazing graphics (I believe that from a purely technical viewpoint, HL2 had worse graphics, though regardless, both looked incredible), it had a very advanced physics engine. This opened the game and mod community to endless possibilities. The game could now utilize physics based puzzles and weaponry, and mods, namely a mod named Garry’s Mod, could do almost anything imaginable. In this ‘Garry’s Mod’, players were essentially designers in a construct. It began as simply being able to pose character models and objects, but it developed into much more. As the mod developed (and still is developing), players can give characters AI commands, and players can actually create things (vehicles and structures). If one so desired, an entire building could be built.

This is the direction that computer games are moving towards. It isn’t just a matter of graphics. It’s a matter of creating new, out-of-this-world worlds, and making them realistic. Next in the HL2-engine development is realistic light effects. Doom 3 presented dynamic realistic light movement (something that HL2 did not offer), and now HL2-developers are working to make the effects of light comparable to the real effects of light on the eyes. After exiting a dark cave for instance, the gamer will see on his screen a brightness that reflects reality.

Gamers are hoping to see much more done with the already stunning physics engine. Many hope to see destructible environments. Instead of bullet holes merely being paint decals on the wall, gamers wish to see bullets that actually pierce the structure. Others hope for advances in AI and character reactions. Players hope for enemies that think and react realistically. Other players want realistic and unique reactions of gunfire…some would like to shoot limbs (or shoot off limbs) and see according injured movement. There is much excitement and anticipation aimed towards this rising new era in gaming. Who knows? In years, we may be able to set explosives strategically and demolish a building; or set a fire and see characters think and move in order to escape. As impossible or futuristic as such amazing feats of programming seem, well…they may not be too impossible, nor too far in the future.

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