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Wednesday, May 7, 2008
A History Of Game Physics
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Game Career Guide has posted a new article exploring the use of physics in computer games. The feature traces the history of physics in games from the early days of Pong to the processor intensive shooters of today.

Even before the advanced 3D graphics of current generation video games, physics played an important role in the game experience. One of the earliest examples of successful game physics is in Spacewar, released in 1962. In Spacewar, players control spaceships that fire bullets and missiles at one another while avoiding being shot or colliding with a star. The physics in that game calculates a gravitational pull that arcs the trajectory of bullet fire, and pulls ships toward them. This gives the game a unique feel that even later more technologically advanced games like Asteroids can't reproduce.

A decade later Pong brought games to mainstream audiences. While Pong had primitive gameplay -- two paddles knocking a ball back and forth -- it's based on a simple physics calculation that determines where on the paddle the ball will hit and bounces it back at the appropriate angle. Atari knew it was on to something good and used the same game mechanic in a single-player version, Breakout. Instead of trying to beat an opponent, the player tries to destroy stationary bricks.

Meanwhile, while the bulk of game makers were designing games set in abstract and alien worlds, a Japanese company was working on a video game with a more human protagonist. Donkey Kong, the first "jumping" game, or platformer, was released in 1981 and garnered a great deal of public attention. Instead of piloting a ship like in Spacewar, or a floating paddle like in Pong, Donkey Kong players control a carpenter named Jumpman.
The full article is available at the website listed below.

Game Career Guide: Physics In Mass Market Games

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