Play Where You Like!
By Jeff "nonick" Solomon
In addition, DirectX allowed programmers to take advantage of the fact that all Windows programs shared a single system driver for each hardware device - as opposed to each program supplying its own driver - so each game didn't need to worry about supporting all of the different kinds of hardware. All programmers needed to do was write to the DirectX API and make sure their programs properly installed the DirectX drivers on the client system.
Initially, DirectX met with opposition from many developers who saw it as a feeble and hackneyed attempt to patch together many of Windows' most glaring flaws. Over time, DirectX evolved to provide better performance and easier access to valuable system resources. In addition, Microsoft added to Windows 95 support for the OpenGL graphics library, which is a set of standard graphics routines that are used to produce high quality 3D rendering, and can be used in games to generate superior graphics.
Windows NT, Microsoft's high-end version of Windows, has supported OpenGL from its initiation in 1993, but Win95 brought that functionality to home users. There has been widespread debate in the gaming industry about the merits of using Direct3D (the 3D graphics component of DirectX) versus OpenGL for gaming. DirectX was designed from the outset to support games, but has often been criticized for offering performance and features that can't compete with OpenGL. John Carmack has addressed this issue extensively, and often mentions it in his .plan file.
Regardless, Windows now supports both DirectX and OpenGL, and Microsoft has publicly stated its intention to marry the two in a future version of DirectX (most likely version 8.0, which might ship next year - the current version is 6.0). The bottom line: Windows is more game-friendly than ever before.
Finally, with a reliable set of gaming services available on the most popular consumer operating system, gaming companies began to embrace Windows as a platform standard. This was a very significant event, because it allowed a large portion of the industry to shift its resources from specialized platforms to the PC market in general. The dominance of the Windows platform promised a large audience for each game, which was a welcome change from the limited market share of competing systems that offered proprietary designs and were in no way guaranteed to be around in the future. This is not to say that Windows offered the best gaming environment- far from it. Rather, it offered a massive, untapped audience for developers to market games to, and at this point was finally able to satisfy most of the basic requirements that developers needed in a gaming platform.
With these developments, the gaming industry was becoming more PC-centric than ever. The PC boom was in full tilt, with sales breaking records on a monthly basis, prices plummeting, and power increasing so fast that people began to protest the almost immediate obsolescence of their purchases. And the gaming industry was finally along for the ride, in many respects actually dictating the flow of technology by forcing companies to provide faster CD-ROM drives, more powerful graphics cards, and superior sound systems to fuel their software's insatiable appetite for system resources.
This is basically where we are today. There are several key trends that are currently influencing the industry that will surely continue to shape it into the future. For one, the fact that a large portion of the gaming industry is now directly married to the PC industry has allowed it to grow and mature at an expanded rate. This concept is essential to the dynamics of the contemporary gaming industry. Companies no longer have to write for specific hardware platform generations that remain at set technology levels for a few years and then leap forward. Now, games can take advantage of new technology as it's released, and with the PC industry, that happens every day.
Second, the prevalence and popularity of the Internet has allowed for a new level of communication, collaboration, news, and PR to envelop the industry. Everyone involved with gaming, from players to designers to manufacturers to potential customers, can easily get in on the action, stay up to date with the latest information and software releases, and help contribute personally to the expanding industry.
|Credits: Illustration © 1998 Mike Sanzone. Play Where You Like! is © 1998 Jeff Solomon. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, dammit.|