Friday, August 19, 2011

PONG appraisal


Student Name Kevin Roth

Today’s Date 8.18.2011

Game Title Examined PONG

Year of Publication 1972

Game Publisher ATARI

Game Developer ATARI

Game Genre (e.g. shoot-em-up, racing, sports, puzzle, MMORPG, ‘sandbox’, music sequence following game (e.g. DDR, guitar hero)

Table Tennis Simulation. I suppose that makes this a sports game...

Type of game ‘world’ or environment (e.g. flat environment, puzzle/maze space, 3D world?)

Flat environment with oblivion on left and right edges

Perspective taken by player (e.g first person, third person perspective, top down, isometric) in relation to main player controlled character.

Top Down

Gameplay – what does the player have to do?

First there is a black flat plane divided left and right evenly where two white paddles bounce off a white ball. The paddles can be moved up and down along the y axis only. The ball is in constant motion from the left to the right on both x and y axis. The ball’s diagonal movement can be manipulated via the positions that the paddles receive it. Any time a paddle does not receive the ball, a score is gained for the opposing side. The goal is to reach 10 points, then the game is won.

Is the gameplay intuitive? (i.e. is it easy to understand what to do without instructions?) describe.

The game is easily understood, almost instantly. The simplicity of the visuals makes the physical relationships between objects unmistakeably clear. Before the game is actually played there is a demo mode running which demonstrates the gameplay mechanics.

Is the gameplay patterned (game does the same thing over & over) or is it random (happens differently every time?)

The game is different every time, only in the sense that the ball is moving in a set of predetermined directions. The player’s “paddling style” controls the directional movements. In this sense, no two games could be entirely alike.

What does the type of graphic approach used as well as the audio tell you about the limits of the technology at the time the game was published?

The limits were a pixel based graphics system which left little room for any visual expansion on the idea. Programming must have been done from the bottom up. As opposed to having engines or specialized languages today. Which would mean that all the content on screen had to be programmed without any precedents for the physics, or even syncing audio to onscreen action. In short it must have taken a great deal of effort just to accomplish simple things. (simple in retrospect)

Describe your views about the game from the point of view of

  1. ease of play
    The game is easy to understand but can still be very challenging. It exemplifies one type of an ideal game mechanics balance.

2. enjoyability
I could say that I do not enjoy the thought of playing pong. But when playing, it takes some effort to disconnect from game. So there is an addictive stimulus working on my brain.

3. level of engagement/immersion
It has an instantaneous immersion, the gameplay is unambiguous and the goals are clear. But to achieve them your attention has to be on the movement of the ball. The success in the game with a distracted player is I would guess somewhat similar to texting and driving simultaneously.

Had you played this game prior to this time? If so, when?

I played it early in my childhood and other variations on it since then. I cannot remember a time when I was not aware of it’s existence.

Describe other games it reminds you of. How does it do this?

It reminds me of tennis. It also reminds me of tossing a ball against a wall and having it bounce it back but in a different direction depending on how I threw it. Pong really reminds me of actual physically interactive games as a youngster. More so then other electronic games.

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