Algorithms and Networking for Computer Games
When students at MIT competed against each other in the first real-time graphical computer game Spacewar in 1962 (Graetz 1981), probably none of them could have dreamt how realistic and complex computer games would develop to be in four decades and how large a business would grow around them. Commercial arcade games such as Pong and Space Invaders arrived in the 1970s, and home computers brought computer games within the reach of all enthusiasts in the 1980s. Since then, game development and programming have turned from being small amateur enterprises into a more professional and largerscale industry. Nowadays, the typical time span of development from an idea to a finished product is about two years and demands the work contribution of 20–50 persons. The current estimates of the annual revenue generated by computer games are around C–– 25 billion and
the annual growth is predicted to be over 10% over the next few years (Game Developers’ Association of Australia 2003).
The game industry has slowly awakened to the possibilities of academic research. International Game Developers Association (2003) lists game programming among the eight core topics of game-related research areas. Game programming is defined to cover aspects of computer science relevant to gaming. This interest in novel solutions and improved methods is understandable, because the marketing of computer games is highly technologydriven. Earlier, the selling points were the amount of colours and real timeliness, then the amount of polygons and the frame update frequency, and now the amount of simultaneous players in a networked game and the realism of the simulation. These features also reflect what programming problems have been on the focus of the game developers at that time.
Apart from classical games with the likes of Chess, Backgammon and Go, computer games as a research topic remained on the margins of computer science for a long time. In fact, the turn of the new millennium saw the birth of several game-related academic conferences and journals and various game programming communities comprising also computer scientists. At the same time, the spectrum of the research topics has extended to cover problems encountered in real-time interactive computer games and networked multi-player games.
Game programming is not an isolated field of study but also includes many essential research areas of ‘traditional’ computer science. Solving an algorithmic or a networking problem is always more than just getting it done as quickly as possible; it is about analysing what is behind the problem and what possibilities there are to solve it. This is the direction where this book heads, and our intention is to provide the reader with a glanc
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