Arcade games

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.