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Even with the original PC, games have been an important part of the personal computer. Early DOS games were popular but it was very difficult to program them as controls were a problem and the evolution of the video card was another problem.
Doom make a big splash when it was released. While the game is crude by modern standards, it was a real landmark in PC gaming. The controls used only the keyboard. The arrows moved around and the control key operated the firing. The number keys selected the weapons.
When idSoftware released Doom it made such a splash that it redefined what PC games could achieve. Earlier games were still very planar with very limited detail due to the limits of DOS. We own a CD of Doom 2 that includes a Windows launcher that even works with Windows 7 fine. This eliminates the need for a loader program. any consider Doom to be the real start to the first person shooter genre.
Quake surfaced in 1996 and it was another big hit. Initially for DOS, versions for OpenGL and Windows were released. Quake provided a more detailed 3D view that once again broke new ground. While the player still had a planer view, the maps are much more 3D in nature.
The Windows Quake engine does not render the game well which limits its playability with Windows 7. The OpenGL engine does not work.
3rd party engines are available that can render this game far better than the original CD can.
When Quake 2 was released (December 9, 1997) it finally unleashed the full free look for a first person shooter. Finally a player can look in any direction by using the mouse. This is where the modern game engine really came into its own. Quake 2 uses a better implementation of OpenGL that works fine with Windows 7 and a single GTX 260 . It can be played at very high resolutions fine. Quake still uses the arrow keys for movement but that can be changed in the options.
With the free look other game developers quickly scrambled to implement the same type of engine. Quickly the mouse became the default look control and W-A-S-D on the keyboard have replaced the arrow keys. This configuration is now standard today.
Microsoft managed to score big hit with Halo: Combat Evolved (November 15, 2001 ) for their new Xbox console. Halo uses the standard free look. Halo starts off with one war only to move into another. Halo could provide many hours of play. At the time Halo on the PC was a very demanding game when it was released in 2003.
Occasionally a publisher would release a game that would be considered demanding. Halo: Combat Evolved is one example of a demanding game. On a modern machine the game is fine but when it was released few could even get it working at 640x480 with an acceptable framerate.
Metro 2033 is the current most demanding game. We expect it will be surpassed soon.
Windows XP remained on the market for a very long time as Microsoft fiddled around to develop Vista. DirectX 9 became the gaming platform of choice and NVIDIA and ATI slugged it out as others folded from the competition.
Soon thousands of games for Windows were developed, with hundreds making it to the market. Early games featured a real diversity of ideas but publishers quickly learned that first person shooters could keep a publisher solvent.
Today most games published still work fine with Windows XP. We have noticed though that publishers are starting to drop support for Windows XP with releases scheduled for 2012. We suggest using Windows 7 which has demonstrated excellent gaming options.