Monday, June 8, 2015

This is the End....

Hey everyone!

So this is my final post, and its strange because I've kinda got used to explaining and just generally talking about Video games and how they work to you lot... But anyways, to conclude about the final things I have spoken about I feel that you don't actually realise the amount of components and parts that you need to actually allow you to play your games. 

So next time when you're sitting down playing some game on your console just think about everything that's going on inside your console and monitor and just everything you're using that is allowing you to see what you're playing. But don't think about it for too long or you might get attacked by some troll or something and you may not have saved... Yeahh just be careful out there.  

For the final time..
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Investigation of operating systems used for games platforms

Hey Everyone!
So I want to be talking about operating systems today, annd I shall start by giving an explanation on what it is and how it runs everything.

  Looking at the diagram on the right you can see that the computer is in the middle and that's because its the most important part as it runs and controls everything else.
Think of it like the Mothership is the computer and the peripherals (everything which is connected to the PC) are the rest of the fleet, now they can't do anything unless they are told to by said Mothership. That's what is happening with operating systems, the computer is the power source and gives all the instructions to the peripherals. 

So operating systems can do simple tasks like being able to recognise input from a mouse or speakers and they can access things like your printer and hard drives.     

With the tasks of Operating systems they come down to six separate categories these being:
  • Processor management
  • Memory management
  • Device management
  • Storage management
  • Application interface
  • User interface
PC's nowadays give you more freedom as you can install any operating system you want onto it but usually when a PC is bought it has a package already install as it makes things easier for the user. Plus with consoles they have set operating systems which aren't possible to change as they are hardware specific, so its not possible to run the operating system of a Ps4 on a Wii U.

Picture on the right shows the Operating system for the Playstation 4, which was made with the user in mind as its clear lay out is simple and more beneficial for those who are using it.

To the left here is the OS for the Xbox one, and its very similar to the layout of windows 8 with multiple apps and tabs. Again its extremely user friendly the same as the Playstation 4 and is convenient.    

Moving away from consoles and towards PC's, as I said before when it comes to operating systems you have a lot more freedom with what you want as there are many types that are available a few normal ones would be: 

Mac OS - Now this operating system is super fancy in the world of PCs and Apple products in general are just super expensive but still, the software itself is hardly open source at all and its only available on mac systems with the specific hardware so its fussy to say the least. 

Windows 8 is the most up to date version of windows and I must admit I don't like it but Windows 7 is my jam. Windows in general is a worldwide loved operating system, as its the most user friendly one you can get. When getting a PC more than likely it will come with Windows, its great! Plus with the up coming release of Windows 10, which should be awesome as I have signed myself up for that when its actually out so I can update my windows 7 immediately.  

Linux, is another OS which is quite open source, but it can be complicated.  Depending on which system you get, you may not be able to run games on it. Kali (the picture) its not actually possible to run games on it, however is it possible if you have Linux mint or Ubuntu.  So depending on what you wanted to do with it, you would have to look into things more.

So there are four types of operating systems  which all vary depending on what system they are running on.
Firstly, regarding operating systems we must assess real-time operating systems which are used in an industrial or scientific context. For example, in laboratories there are machines which extract particles for example from a sample. These run regularly and once they are turned on there is no necessary intervention from whomever is using it as the machine can complete the task on its own. Similar to that of a factory setting. This is useful for large scale operations where corporations will need something to be produced at mass and as an operating system, this is very useful for such a need. Single-user, single task operating systems are designed to ensure that the user in charge of operating it can do one thing at a time within their work process. For example, a mobile phone, let's say Apple iOS. In this case only one screen is needed for interaction and basic functions can be carried out, like taking a photo or putting on some music. Another example is Windows CE which was a miniature version of what we know as the Windows operating system. We must also take into account operating systems like Android, as based on Linux. Symbian as developed by Nokia and the Blackberry OS as developed by Research in Motion in 1999 Thirdly there is Single-user multi-tasking, wherein an operating system lets a single user have several operations running at once. As found on Mac OS, for example we are able to scroll through Facebook while downloading a song from iTunes and writing a piece of homework. This is very useful for the individual, much like Single-user, single task. Boot Camp on Mac is an exam of a computer being able to use an operating system which differs from its native. It allows Mac users to hold down their option key during start up and from there choose whether or not they'd like to run Windows or Mac OS. Finally we can assess Multi-user operating systems. This is where multiple users are supported throughout time. For example, in a school or college all computers are run off the mainframe computer from which hundreds of people can use their own. This is useful for big companies with regards to tasks like processing data.

So Mobile devices have their own operating systems just like consoles and PCs and that's because they are very much the same as them but smaller and with less processing power and specifications.
To start with Android with their Linux based OS. This operating system can be run on more devises than other OS and is very free with what you can do with it. Androids main competitors are iOS and I must admit I do prefer iOS, I know there is more freedom with Android but iOS just has better presentation and looks more professional

So lets talk about iOS instead. At the present time they're on their 8th version which is iOS 8, and it can be run on their more newer versions of their products but anything bellow the iphone 5 has stopped updating and is stuck on their highest version. This is very annoying as it means that if you want to keep up to date with their things then you have to keep spending money and update your gadgets. But once you've had an apple product it doesn't feel right to use anything else as its just not as simple, like swapping from an iPhone to a Windows phone wouldn't feel right as it has a completely different layout. Also with iOS you can only run it on apple products so its not possible to put anything else on them either. 

Windows have made a mini version of their OS for tablets and phones, and each time it gets updated so will their phones. At the moment its on Windows 8 but as soon as Windows 10 is released then there will most likely be an updated version available.    

 This pie chart shows the shares on the phone market with the different operating systems of 2014 and its very obviously mostly with iOS and Android, with everything else only taking up a small amount of the market.

This is the final proper post, apart from my conclusion of it all, I hope you have enjoyed reading and as always,
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Investigation application software used to develop games

Hey all!

So I want to be talking with you guys today about, games application software and just explain everything to you.
Lets start with the basics of it all and let me explain what a computer program is. So its a set of instructions which tell the computer what it needs to do, this could be adding up numbers or make decisions based on a answer from a previous task. However, a computer program is only a set of instructions for the computer and it will follow anything that you tell it to do and at the same time can do something else that you want it to do. This could be the situation like you were on a game and you couldn't progress through the level because something was blocking your path and you couldn't defeat it, you would be able to go onto the internet and search a way of getting passed the problem and then you could just flick between your game and the web.

Now the computer needs to be able to understand all of the commands and instructions that you are giving it and in order for it to do that it has to be in a specific language, this is the programming language. There a multiple different programming languages just like in the real world where people in different countries speak different languages. Depending on the tasks the different languages can be used, but all of the languages are pretty much saying the same thing its just in different ways.
With most video games they are predominantly written in C++, C and occasionally assembly language. This assembly language is a relatively basis language and it written so that it will run on a specific hardware, so the assembly language for an Xbox One wouldn't be the same as a PS4. 

So with there being different types of games programming language there has to be another program that is there to help translate code because for the CPU to understand and act upon but with most things there are advantages and disadvantages for instance for disadvantages the process will take a lot longer because the system has to spend more time translating the information which can cause it to be slow, also it only has a limited access to the operating system and hardware. However, the advantages of it is that it makes things a lot easier to program with than different languages and also if you were to make an error when coding it wouldn't cause a huge problem and would be a lot more forgiving, this allows you to experiment and try new things. 

So Java is one of the main Interpreted languages and its used a lot on the internet for web games as it is cross-platform and the user wont have to install anything to allow it to work, also because nothing is downloaded then you don't have any risks like you would if you were to download something because there wouldn't be anyway to allow any virus' into whatever you are using it on. The problem is its not often available on games consoles but it is one of the more commonly used language for phone apps and games. 

C# is another interpreted programming language which is preferred for developing game development tools. These tools are specialised software applications which facilitates and can assist with the developing of computer games. The types of tasks which is helps to preform are converting the assets so this is thing like the 3D models and their textures into formats required by the game and editing levels. So this could be changing 3DS Max files to FBXs. 

So with most games being written in C and C++,  these are the best examples of compiled Languages. So this pretty much means that once you've written your C program you will have to run it through a C compiler which will turn the program into a format which your computer will be able to run. The C program is the part that is understandable from our point of view and once its gone through the compiler then it will be in a form which the computer will be able to understand.    

So thats all for this i hope you've liked what you have read!
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Investigation of APIs used for game platforms

Hey Guys!

So I'm going to be talking about APIs and just explaining them and giving examples, so starting from the beginning.

API or Application Programming interface is a collection of code which is accessed by applications, these APIs work as a foundation to most applications as they are a universally used code and it means that the coder wont have to keep rewriting code as its already been written once and can just be reused. So the two main APIs that are used for video games are DirectX and OpenGL, however these aren't just used when it comes to games as they are also involved with computer applications.

So OpenGL (Open Graphics Library) is a cross-languagemulti-platform application programming interface (API), and its is used for rendering 3D and 2D vector graphics and computer graphics also its used to draw 3D complex scene created from easy shapes. The API is sometimes used to work with a graphics processing unit (GPU) to achieve hardware-accelerated rendering.
It was developed by Silicon Graphics Inc
 and was released in January 1992. OpenGL exposes all the features of the latest graphics hardware in the best way possible. Games that use OpenGL include, Doom 3, Dota 2 and Minecraft. 

So like OpenGL,  OpenAL is an environmental 3D audio library that try's to provide an open replacement for proprietary 3D audio systems such as EAX or A3D. Also OpenAL can add realism to a game by simulating the degradation of sound over distance and the Doppler effect which is the change in frequency as a result of motion, like when you hear an ambulance drive past you with its sirens on and gets super loud when its near you but it fades as it gets further away.

Microsoft’s DirectX is a collection of API’s (application programming interfaces) designed to deal with tasks related to the multimedia, video and game programming on Microsoft platforms. The name DirectX was chosen as a shorthand term for all of these APIs, the X standing in for the particular API names and soon became the name of the collection. When Microsoft later decided to develop the Xbox, the X was used as the basis of the name to indicate that the console was based on DirectX technology. Originally, the names of these APIs all began with Direct, such aDirect3D, DirectDraw,  DirectMusic,  DirectPlay, and DirectSound to which they were combined together to create DirectX . It’s been used in a wide variety of games for Windows and the Xbox 360 as well, these include DiRT3 and Lost Planet 2.

With both OpenGL and DirectX there is always people trying to compare them to find the best one and this video is one of those times. But personally I can't exactly tell the difference as they are both of a high quality. But what do you think?

Hope you have enjoyed reading.
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Investigation of drivers for sound, graphics and network interface cards with game platforms

Hey Guys!

I want to be talking about device drivers with you for this post and just explain what they are so you all get a better understanding of it all.
Starting with the basics, device drivers are a specific type of software which has been created so that the operating system can interact with hardware devices, so this could be your keyboard, mouse or printer.
So these drives are specific to the area of hardware that they are connected to, the hardware can be supplied with the hardware or may be downloaded when its in need by the operating system. If a newer model of the hardware is installed then the operating system will look to see if the driver is up to date and if this isn't the case then drivers can be updated and downloaded.

Sound-card Drivers, now to be able to use a sound-card your operating system needs to be able to have access and use a sound-card driver. This is a programme that links the OS and the sound card together, it tells the system what the sound-card is and what capabilities it has, like the amount of inputs and outputs its has.
There are many ranges of sound cards and obviously the more you pay for them the better quality they will be, for instance the 
ASUS Xonar Essence STX  (shown in the picture) runs off its own software which makes its easier to update, plus with an audio performance rating of 9.5/10 it is one of the better sound cards available on the market.

Moving away from Sound cards and onto Graphics cards now and in a similar way to sound cards,  the operating system has to have a graphics card driver to be able to use the card itself. This is the programme which allows the OS to connect with the Graphics card. This programme will tell the OS the details of the card, so this would be the name of it plus the types of frame rates it would be able to handle and the resolution of it. 

Network Interface controller drivers (bit of a mouth full), these are another component which are controlled by a driver. This is the part which allows you  to be connected to network via an Ethernet cable and the driver will tell the card how to access the network and also operate it properly. So in brief terms its a circuit board or a card that can be installed into a PC so you are able to connect to the internet.

This is the end of this part but I hope this has all made sense to you all :3
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Investigation of platform dependency with game platforms


Okay so to start with I'll talk about Independent and dependent platforms and what it means to be either.
Dependent platforms are those who's software applications only run under a certain operating system or in one type of computer. For instance Mac OS will only run on Macintosh hardware and the same with Windows only working on PC hardware.
 Games consoles work much the same as they have games that will only work for the console they're made for, so things like PS4 games wont work on Xbox One games and vise versa.

Independent platforms however are the opposite, so these applications can run in multiple operating systems. Programming applications like Java or HTML are both easy examples because as they can be run on multiple systems and they are recognised on a wide scale and it.      

Cross Platform Games are games which are released on multiple consoles, for example Rockstar released GTA V across various platform which were PC, Xbox one, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4 and PS3 and also is accessible on iOS on iPhone.
GTA is a recent game which is cross platform but its range is not as vast as some, for instance Myst which has been released on
Mac OS,  Sega SaturnPlayStation, 3DOMicrosoft WindowsAtari Jaguar CD, CD-i, AmigaOSPlayStation PortableNintendo DS, iOS and Nintendo 3DS. So Not only are cross platform games over consoles they're also moved onto portable devices like handhelds and Mobile Phones.  

I hope this has given you a better understanding of the different dependencies with platforms.  
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The last of it all...

Hey Everyone

So, once again I'm going to be talking about some new things.
This time ill be covering the topics of platform dependency, the operating systems that are used, the different drivers for sound, graphics, and network interface cards which are all for games platforms. I will also be looking at application software with is used to develop games and the graphical and sound API's which are used for games platforms.

I hope you will stick around for these up coming topics!

Until next time 

Fairwinds internet travellers!

Friday, May 15, 2015

Investigating game storage mediums


So when we all play our favourite games, we all want to be able to save our progress and continue next time we play the game. Well there are some different types of how we save are games with different options of storage used.

One of the forms of storage is a DVD which is also known as a Digital Versatile Disc, but usually everyone including myself just calls it a DVD. DVD’s are usually used to hold feature films and most modern games we all know, love and play. A single DVD can storage just over 4 GB of data, GB being short for Gigabytes, and manufacturers have increased the capacity for the DVDs due to the games being more complex meaning the games need more space on a DVD to hold it, if not, the game would have to be split between discs, like an install disc and a play disc like some games such as Halo 4 for the Xbox 360.
How they increase the capacity you may ask? Well the use double layered DVD’s which can usually hold a capacity total of 8GB. A specific laser is always used on consoles which require DVD’s to play game in today’s time, can you think of a console that still has games being produced for it without a disc drive? I can’t. The laser in the console reads the data from the DVD and does what it needs to do with it in order to play the game. DVD’s may sound all good but they scratch really easily and can be snapped or broken with ease, not being able to be fixed again.

UMD is another form of storage used within the games industry, it stands for Universal Media Disc and was create by Sony, the owners of PlayStation and was therefore only used on its PSP platforms. It can hold just under 2GB of data, which could include the usually media such as music, film and video games itself. UMD is not usually used in today’s platforms since the PSP due to the increased use of downloadable games from Sony’s own store, the PlayStation Store.
And one of the other forms of storage is Flash Storage, which we all must of heard of, but quite possibly not know what it meant. It’s most common within the handheld platforms, such as the 3DS, DS and PS Vita. It uses an internal flash memory system to have the video games save data stored too it, it saves the progress of the player. However because the flash memory tends to be usually quite small, some games don’t allow for the save files to be saved to it due to the save files themselves being too big. An example of this being some of the Uncharted Games on PS Vita and the Assassins Creed Liberations game.

One of the most annoying things games developers and publishers have to deal with in the world is Piracy, it’s illegal and it loses the companies money for all the work they put into the game, and no one pays back for it. Imagine your best piece of work, and you go to sell it, and someone gets it for free without your consent of it being free, you would feel all down. This is that but on a much larger scale, companies loose thousands of pounds to piracy each year and some games implement their own anti-piracy code into the games to help fight back against it. One example of an antipiracy doe would be Mirrors Edge created by EA. In this game it’s all about free running and parkour, and jumping around, well if you pirate it, the anti-piracy code kicks in and makes you run a lot slower only before key jumps meaning they stop the experience of the game and want you to buy it to fully feel the experience of the game, and give the workers and developers of the game the credit and reward they deserve.

Thats it I'm afraid drawing these topics to a close, I hope you have found them all to be interesting and you have learnt a thing or two from it all!
Until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Investigation of Memory, Sound and Displays

Hey Everyone!

I'm moving onto talking about memory, sound and displays now. So before I forget anything I'll be starting with memory.
So the purpose/idea of memory be it in a computer or a console is keep the information and store it so that it will be processed by the central processing unit (CPU). If the CPU in your computer had to constantly retrieve each and every piece of information that it needed then you would find it very hard to actually do anything on the PC as it would be very slow and it would have trouble to function properly.
So you have different types of memory and each has a different way of doing things. To start with you get Random Access Memory or RAM for short, this is the type of memory which is only available until that PC or console is turned off. Its called RANDOM Access memory because the memory data can be retrieved from the chip without being in a certain order so it can literally be randomly accessed.
There is two main types of RAM that are available which are DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) and SRAM (Static Random Access Memory). These two are very different from each other as they don't use the same technology.

Starting with DRAM its the more commonly used type of RAM as its the cheaper one to manufacture, However that doesn't mean its the better one to use. So the memory chip for DRAM is created by a collection of transistors and capacitors, bearing in mind there will be millions of these involved, and these all come together to make a memory cell. The capacitors will keep hold of the information whilst the transistors act like a switch the allow the data to be viewed. Think of it like a sink with a bad plug and the capacitor holds the information like a sink would hold water. But because the sink has a bad plug the water leaks out and has to be refilled, this is what happens with the capacitor as it looses information it has to have more data added and its added by the CPU. This is the reason its called Dynamic RAM because if its not refreshed then it forgets what its holding. All of this takes time which slows the speed of the memory, and this is ones of the differences between DRAM and SRAM.

Moving onto SRAM so unlike DRAM, SRAM doesn't need to be refreshed. This is because Static RAM has an electrical circuit which holds the different bits of memory. Each of the memory cells include 4 or 6 transistors along with the wiring and this is the bit which makes it better than Dynamic RAM because no refreshing is needed! so it allows it to be much more quicker. However like everything there is a down side to Static RAM which is that due to the more parts and that the memory cell takes up much more room on the chip than the dynamic memory cell, it just costs alot more to create.  
Rambus Dynamic Random Access Memory (RDRAM) is another type of memory and kinda works in the same sort of way to DRAM but is alot faster as it has a high speed data bus. IT has been used in past consoles for instance the Playstation 2 which had 32MB of RDRAM and also the Playstation 3 that had 256MB RDRAM, there is a sex year gap between the two consoles and in that time Sony was able to allow the PS3 to have a much larger memory capacity. 

So we all know how different modern TV’s are compared to old TV’s, and how older ones look bigger width wise and effectively looked like boxes, well that’s not the only new enhancement to TV’s.
Most modern TV’s to this date use something called Liquid Crystal Display technology, or when your reading a label or a description of a TV it would say the shorter name for it, LCD Display. How these work are by the pixels get switched on and off by using the liquid crystals to rotate light which travelling from the back of the TV to way up front on the screen.
Most people of this day and age have colour monitors, meaning each pixel is created through 3 different sub-pixels. There is a Red Sub-pixel, a Green Sub-Pixel and a Blue Sub-Pixel. These 3 colours could create up to 16 million and possibly a bit more when they are paired up with at least 256 shades of each of the sub-pixels. The shorter name for the sub pixels is RGB, for Red, Green and Blue.

So we all know what a handheld platform is and how they also too include a small display to work from, one example of a handheld platform which has a display would be the Sony PSP which has an LCD display of a resolution of 480 x 272 (Length by height). Handheld devices such as the iPhone 4 has a LCD screen at a resolution of 640 x 960. 

Okay Sound is the final part that I will talking about for this post. Right, before sound cards were developed computers weren't able to make any real sounds the only thing they could make was a singular beep. This beep was able to change depending on the length it was playing for and the frequency it was playing at. When this beep was first used it was there to point out that there was a warning or it was signalling something, however later on PC game creators developed music for early games. This music was made up of beeps of different lengths and pitches, so it wasn't quite as you and I would picture video game music to be nowadays. The game music we know of contains much more realistic sounds which are of a high quality and fit well with the depending on what happens in the game. 
Most modern day PCs allows 3-D audio for games and Surround sound playback for DVDs. It can also allow you to capture and record sounds from external sources. The most simple sound card includes four components:
  • analog-­‐to-­‐digital converter (ADC)
  • digital-­‐to-­‐analog converter (DAC)
  • ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) or PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
  •  interface which connects the card to the motherboard
  • Input and output connections for microphones and speakers
Unlike computers some gaming consoles have a processor which is there to create the sounds instead. These are called Media communications Processors (MCP) and are rather powerful and are capable of created 3D sound of an extremely good quality.
Like I mentioned earlier there are two types of sound that PCs can play, these being 3D sound and Surround Sound.
 3D sound which is used by game designers to allow for realistic and dynamic sound in which changes based of the players position. However, it can be played from different directions. So this could be an explosion being on the right hand side but say if you were wearing a headset then you could hear it through the right headphone. 
Surround sound unlike 3D sound produces sound from several different directions. Change on the listeners action doesn't affect the sound and where it would be coming from. home theatre systems commonly use surround sound as it brings the viewer more into the film. 

I hope you enjoyed reading until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Investigation of Human Computer Interface (HCI) developments for games platforms.


Okay so lets start with an understanding of what I will be talking about, Human computer interface or HCI is the planned design of human and computer activities. It looks at the productivity, safety and entertainment to support and fulfil the needs when using any kind of peripheral such as a games console, controllers, headsets and keyboard & mouse. The study of HCI focuses on user satisfaction and is there to make sure that the user will be comfortable and happy when using the product. HCI is important, because a poor interface can make it harder for users to benefit from even the simplest systems there for making the experience less enjoyable and may cause serious consequences to the manufactures. 

Starting in the 1977 you had the Atari 2600 which was the first games console. Come pared to the controllers of today the 2600 had a simply designed controller which was just a joystick that the player could use to interact with their game. Because this controller may have been quite restrictive Atari also brought out Paddle controllers which were commonly used for the games Pong, Night driver and Breakout. 
In the same year Atari also brought out 5200 controllers which consisted of a joystick controller with added number buttons and also the Trak-ball which was more commonly used for the 5200 console. 
So in 1983 the Nintendo NES console was released and to this day the controller is iconic and know everywhere. It was the beginning of the Directional Pad (D-Pad) which is still used on new controllers today, it consists of the for individual buttons in a diamond shape which allow you to go up, down, left and right. In the centre it had select and start buttons and it also had A and B buttons which allowed you to interact with the game more so say you were fighting it would let you attack or maybe you were on a quest and you had to either select or pick up with those buttons would allow to do that. 

Three years after Nintendo released their NES, in 1986 Sega tried to replicate it with their Master System controller. Just like the NES controller it was of a rectangular shape with A and B buttons, however to try and not seem like they were copying Nintendo they renamed the buttons 1 and 2. Buut obviously everyone could see they that had copied Nintendo.   

Sega in 1988 did change the look of controllers to fit your hands better by curving them, so instead of the previously used rectangles they had curved sides so you would have a better grip. Sega also added an extra button so they had A, B and C buttons so it would allow better interaction and options within the gaming experience.  

Stepping up into the 90's and Sony brings out their first Playstation console with controller. This controller sets the path for future controllers as its the most comfortable shape by far and it has a new easier layout of buttons which consist of Triangle, Square, X and Circle shapes that represent the action buttons. Sony carried on the usage of the D-pad like its Predecessors as it was preferred by the gamers.
Also in 1997 Sony decided to released the Dual Shock controller for the Playstation which allowed the player to not only have the D-Pad but they also had two analog sticks which gave more freedom and better handling of the games, they allowed more precision and were favoured alot when they were introdced.

Jumping ahead into 2006, The Nintendo Wii is one of those consoles that took off at launch, and one of its biggest reasons for it was the controller and the motion control aspect to it, people wanted to feel as if their physical actions make a difference in the game they are playing and with the Wii remote, this is what they went for. 
With the controller you can easily see it resembles the old style controller with it being of a rectangular shape like the NES for example. The Controller was also built like that for the ease of use, such as swinging a bat, or a tennis racquet. The D-pad was at the top of the remote and the traditional “A” and “B” buttons were located at about halfway down the controller. The Wii Remote always came with a nunchuck in which you connect to the Wii remote through a cable. The nunchuck also have motion controls, such as shaking to allow for more action in your game. Soon many third party companies started to make accessories for the Wii remote, such as steering wheels, tennis racquet look a likes, and a gun look alike accessory, this was to give the player even more experience in the game and make it feel more alive.

And in one more final attempt for the Wii to gain superiority in the motion control gaming side, Nintendo created the Wii Motion Plus, which was a small attachment to the Wii remote for even more motion precision for the game, one of the popular games played by the Wii motion plus was swordplay on the Wii Sports Motion Plus, which was a whole game exclusive to people who had the Wii motion plus. The Wii and its accessory’s and motion plus was popular among families and many people until things like the Xbox Kinect came out which was the exact same, except without a controller and was even more precise again.

The 3DS was one of, if not the most influential platform of this time, due to its 3D experience and enhanced DS features. If you had a DS back as a child, you may have really wanted a 3DS when it was announced because of its 3D features. It was released back in 2011. The 3DS uses a 3D feature which does not need the use of 3D glasses to have the full experience, this was another selling point of the 3DS. The internet functionality was massively improved from the previous DS’s, and also came with an analog stick which was the first of its kind for the Nintendo handheld platforms. The top screen is also a bit bigger than the 3DS’s predecessor the original DSi. 

So, the newest controllers for the newest generation of consoles which came in 2013, these being the Xbox One and the PS4.
Xbox One features a controller which has been almost redesigned with a few tweaks, such as the added rumble feature which was implemented in the Xbox 360, its predecessor, and have re done it. On each of the prongs of the Xbox One controller it features enhanced rumble pads for, as Microsoft say, realistic rumbling. The Dashboard is located at the top centre above all the buttons as you can see in the image. Some people really like it because it’s out of the way and, however people do dislike it due to the awkwardness of reaching over to press it.

The PlayStation 4’s controller on the other hand has a very similar style to the previous dualshock controllers such as the PS3, PS2 and PlayStation One. The PS4 controller has a new touch pad in which developers can programme and bind the touchpad to a function in their game, like move around the mini-map etc. The light bar is also a new feature on the PS4 which tells you when the controller is on, and can also be programmed by the developers for their game. An example of this being when you get shot in a battlefield game, let’s say, the light bar on the PS4 goes from blue, to red. This may not be practical but people like it aesthetically. 

Straying away from the history of controllers and more of why they are how they are you come across Ergonomic design. Now this is how comfortable and intuitively that object can be used. So for us we will be talking about Video Game controllers but this can fit in with any product that is being designed be it a chair, glasses (not wearable glasses but drinking glasses but it would also be looked at for them too), phones, headsets anything really that would be used on a daily bases that needs to be comfortable and easy to use.
When a controller is being designed, those who are designing it would be thinking about types of things that they know have worked in the past and what haven't and the things that they like in a controller. So they could be asking about how comfortable it is to hold and if they use it for long periods of time would cramping or any pain start to occur and if so then what could be changed to avoid those types of problems.

Button Configurations is also something that has to be kept in mind. The easiest way to explain it would be that its the amount of buttons on the controller how and where they are put for quick and easy use. Looking at old controllers you can see how things have evolved and advances in technology has allowed more buttons with more uses as you can change the functions whilst on the games to your preference and there has been changes in ergonomic design which fit the consumers better.  I mean personally I really like how the xbox 360 controller is because I find that it fits my hands better and everything is easy to reach, I used to always be a Playstation kind of person but when I more recently bought a 360 my feelings changed alot and I found that it was better for me. I know that some people would disagree but each to their own. 

Moving onto User-Centred Design (UCD) this is when any questions about who the user is and their tasks/goals within the games are answered so that the findings can help to make decisions on the design and development of the controller. Usually the types of things that would be asked are:
  • Where do the buttons need to be so goals can be completed quicker?
  • Who are the users going to be?
  • What type of experience are the users going to have with existing controllers that could be similar to the one in the making?
  • What preference do the users have on how it should work?

So the final thing I am talking about for this post is portability. This covers things like the console itself maybe a Nintendo 3DS or the Sony Playstation Vita and it covers the controller instead which you could maybe take somewhere else to play with friends. Because of technology advances it is possible to take away controllers with you to different places without having to deal with wires, bluetooth and wireless technology has helped heaps with this task so yeah thank advances in tech for your easy gaming get together's with your friends.
But saying that its not always easy because there are faults in the systems, for instance sometimes with wireless xbox controllers and wii remotes you loose that signal from the controller to the console which can be very frustrating at times. Also the same controllers have the problem of if you have normal batteries in them then you need to replace them on a regular basis depending on the types you use and how long you use them for. Playstation 3 controllers do have a wire that allows you to connect the controller back up to the console with if its running low on battery which keeps everyone happy, and the Xbox also has this option but like most things with xboxs you have to pay extra to get hold of it.

Thats where I finish for this post, I hope you have enjoyed this one 
until next time 
Fairwinds internet travellers!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

CPU & GPU Processors

Hey Guys!

I'm just going to  go straight into this one because its a log winded kind of topic, so enjoy. 
You may or may not have heard of a CPU, and if you have, you may not fully know what it’s all about. It. The Central Processing Unit, or CPU for short, is pretty much the brains of the machine, whether it’s a video games console, a computer or your mobile phone. Everything you wish to do on your device like turn on the machine, or open a programme has a command sent to the CPU which then sends a command to the area of the machine, like a human brain if it’s easier for you to think of it like that. 
However a CPU can’t just work by itself, it’s not able to work hard without something helping it, like humans, the more we work out, like playing a sport for example, and we get hot and can get dizzy due to the heat right? Well this is effectively the same, the CPU gets hotter the more work it has to do so it has to have both a heat sink and a fan to help cool it down whilst the CPU does the work like receiving and
sending data to and from parts of the machine, such as the RAM or the Hard drive.

CPU’s are measured in a speed of GHz, which is short for the word gigahertz. The higher number for the GHz, the quicker the processing speed is, and can get more work done at once. The Xbox One, Microsoft’s console that came out in 2013 has a processor speed of 1.75 GHz, which is equal to 1.75 billion cycles the processor has to do every second!
Manufacturers of the CPU’s can make the processing power more powerful if they so wish, so how do they do this? They create multi-core CPU’s, this could range to having 2 or 3 or even 4 more cores onto the CPU for a lot more power, being able to process quicker and do more things at once, its effectively giving the CPU more brains to process and carry out commands. The overall workload of the CPU is shared between the cores to ease the use and saves it overheating quicker. One example being of how the cores are shared is that one core could be used dedicated to the physics and engine based processes, and another could be dedicated to the sounds and animations of a game for example, and this is all done by the games developers, they can pick and choose how they wish to share it out.

One of the most important thing with the CPU is the CPU cache, it’s a component with the CPU which works effectively like our memories (another reason to think of it like a brain) it’s used to reduce the average time to access memory. Like humans, if we need to write about something and we need to remember something to write, we would get it written down quicker than if we forgotten it and had to go on the internet and search for it, this is pretty much the same. If a process needs to write or read from a location in the memory, it checks the CPU cache, to see if there is a copy of the data stored for it to use, if there is a copy, the CPU would use it and it would save time, instead of having to go and search for it and complete the process that way.

Data Buses are a collection of wires which transmits data to and from areas of the computer, and is called a data bus for that reason, like real buses, except for data in a computer. There are two parts of a data bus, one being the address bus and the data bus itself. The actual data is carried thought the data bus itself and the address bus transfers the information on where the data bus is meant to be going to. Now, you may have seen on your computer whether it’s a 16-bit computer or a 32-bit computer and you may not have known what it meant. It’s the size of the data bus, its important because it determines how much data a data bus can carry in one trip.  16-bit would be 16 bits of data being carried at once by one data bus,whilst 32-bit means 32 bits can be carried at once.

Moving on..
Okay so like most people, you may have thought GPUs were a type of CPU? Well in most cases they are and here’s how. A Graphics Processing Unit, or GPU for short is a single chip creates and enhances lighting effects and transforms a 3D object every time a 3D scene is redrawn.

Video games graphics but a ton of stress on the CPU, the brain of the computer, and like humans, we don’t like stress and now and then like some help, and this is where the GPU comes into place. It’s built specifically for video games graphics and allowing the CPU to free up some of its processors for something else, this takes a lot of stress of the processor and is a great help to it. Without it the processor could have got really hot and not work as quick and you would intend it to do.
There are in fact different types of GPU, you could have an integrated graphics processor, which uses the memory from the main computer to run graphics, the bad side to this is that it could really slow down your processor which is never a good thing. Another form of GPU would be dedicated graphics cards.

Consoles such as the Xbox 360 and the PS3 have dedicated and specifically built GPUs for their machines for memory intensive games.
Here are some examples of GPUS, NVidia GTX 680, GTX 770, and GTX Titan.
Similar to the speed of the CPU’s being GHz, GPU’s are measured in MHz for their speed, which is short for megahertz. An example would be the GPU speed of the Xbox One being 853 MHz and comparing that to the Xbox 360, the Xbox One’s predecessor, it has 500 MHz, now you know how much faster it is, quite a lot faster.
You need to consider how much memory is available to the GPU because it will also have an effect on the performance of the game, the higher textures and details in a game, the more power the GPU needs.

Random Access Memory, also most commonly known as RAM for short, is available in the video card, this helps with better resolution settings, and smoother game performance in general. The smoother the game, the better experience you have playing it. And we all like at least over 30 FPS at least when playing a game.
You may not realise it but 3D models also have an impact on games performance, and GPU performance. There’s two types of 3D Modelling, one being a long winded name being, Non – Uniform Rational B – Spline, or a much easier term for it, NURBS. This type of modelling is used t create curves, this takes up a lot less memory from the GPU. Polygon modelling on the other hand is a lot more strenuous on the GPU due to the fact the object it’s created from a lot more smaller number of elements.

This is all CPU and GPU covered, it’s fairly simple once you understand it, it’s effectively the brain of a computer and its best friend, so yeah until next time. 
Fairwinds internet travellers