The earliest video games like NIMROD, tic-tac-toe, Tennis for Two and Spacewar! were more like pet hobbies by MIT genius tinkerers than a mainstream entertainment discovery. They were born in the 1950s and 60s, out of basic radar display technology and consisted of an analog interface and vector-drawn dots. It wasn’t until the early 70s when the first coin-operated video game hit the scene and really heated up. The industry and art-form have come a long way since then, but it would still be 35 years until NaturalMotion would make its mark, adding a never-before-seen level of realism to game characters.
To learn about how NaturalMotion changed the gaming industry forever, keep reading on the next page.
Nutting Associates released Computer Space in 1971. It was created by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney, who would both later found Atari, Inc. and was the first commercial venture into the industry. Computer Space operated on black-and-white televisions and even made its way onto the silver screen in Soylent Green. Shortly thereafter Magnavox Odyssey was released as the first home console, and Atari’s Pong for the home and arcade brought the video game industry to life.
Between then and now, we’ve seen an arcade rush in the late-70s thanks to iconic games like Space Invaders (which pulled the gaming market out of a crash, and gave birth to the arcade), as well as the home gaming boom in the 80s as a result of the widespread success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, which pulled the industry out of yet another crash, and shifted the industry power from the U.S. to Japan.
Today, the three largest producers and consumers for computer and video games are North America, Japan and the United Kingdom. Whether you play games on the PC, consoles, handhelds, arcades, or social networks, there’s an engine (of code) driving the storyline and graphics. Moving well beyond the golden days of static third-generation animation when Mario and Sonic battled it out for number one, or when Bond and Zelda jockeyed for overworld dominance in the fifth-generation of gaming, we’ve comfortably settled into the eighth-generation — highlighted with WiFi and 3G mobility, touchscreen interaction, motion control and peripheral sensors, cloud computing and 3D graphics.
Regardless which platform you’re engaging, whether it’s via PC, console, handheld, arcade, or social media, there’s an engine driving the storyline and graphics
Taking the lead in creating the truest form of human-like behaviors in video gaming history is the Euphoria game animation engine, a proprietary technology launched by NaturalMotion in 2006. The Euphoria engine revolutionized the popular “ragdoll” computerized behavior at the time using Dynamic Motion Synthesis, which mimics the muscular system of the human body — taking into account how the body shape, muscles and motor system work together. Thanks to Euphoria, graphics became based upon artificial intelligence, physics and biomechanics that responded to real-time engagements during the game.
Grand Theft Auto IV was the first game to employ the Euphoria engine, and won dozens of awards in 2008. Following this success, Rockstar again chose Euphoria for the 2010 release of Red Dead Redemption, which received even more accolades than their first release. Euphoria and Rockstar have teamed-up once more, for the highly anticipated 2012 release of Max Payne 3. Other titles that use Euphoria include Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. While there are a variety of gaming engines powering successful titles today, Eurphoria’s work in the space unquestionably raised the experience bar for developers and players alike, ushering in a new level of immersion in an industry, that 50 years earlier, had wowed the world with Pong.
To learn more, check out the history of NaturalMotion on their website.
Written by Justin Gural. Additional contribution by Ben Bowers and Eric Yang