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Chapter 1. A Chronology of Game Programming

"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move."

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  • Phase I: Before Spacewar

  • Phase II: Spacewar to Atari

  • Phase III: Game Consoles and Personal Computers

  • Phase IV: Shakedown and Consolidation

  • Phase V: The Advent of the Game Engine

  • Phase VI: The Handheld Revolution

  • Phase VII: The Cellular Phenomenon

  • Phase VIII: Multiplayer Games

  • In Closing

The art and science of game development have experienced a huge progression since the early days. Hardware has improved by orders of magnitude, whereas game complexity and richness have simply exploded. To better understand how games are coded today, and why, it is essential to look back and review the history of game programming. I have divided that lengthy narration into what I consider the eight most defining moments that shaped the current industry. Let's time warp ourselves to those moments and take a look at how things were done back then. This way the reasons behind today's practices will become obvious. I will avoid the trivial and focus on programming practices. Because raw data is useless without perspective, it's also important to provide some context in which to interpret the data and to understand how today's programming practices were developed.

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