Why Technical English

Beware of danger when playing PC games online

October 30, 2010
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Example of firewall function: Blocking spyware...

Image via Wikipedia

  
By P. B.

The Internet is a place where the user can find a lot of information, entertainment or work, but on the other side, the same user can “catch” viruses, spyware or malware. Many people don´t understand why somebody creates these harmful programs (see the notes below about these programs). However, the answer is easy – similarly in the common life we can meet a lot of people with wicked goals. And gaining money through special programs is an appropriate goal of many Internet thieves. There are various methods how to do it. On the Internet the user may visit some Web pages which contain  viruses or spyware or malware. It can very often happen to the pages with games because games are considered to be typically connected with gamblers and for this reason it can be a source of money.

But the harmful code  may not be only on the Web pages, games themselves can include it.  It means that the player, when downloading some game and installing it on the local computer, also installs the harmful code without any suspicion. It can be very dangerous – one small example. Imagine the user installed the game that involves a so-called keylogger. The key logger is a small program that records stealthily all keys which the user presses. Many antivirus programs consider this software as a virus (usually as a Trojan-horse – see A worm, a virus or a Trojan horse?). So, the key logger writes all pressed keys to the txt file and sends it to the thief´s e-mail. Suppose, after that the user visited his online betting on the http://www.tipsport.cz, where he had to write the text “www.tipsport.cz” following by username “honza” and password “sazeni123”. The key logger put this string of characters in the txt file “www.tipsport.czhonzasazeni123”. The thief received the file, found this text and was very fast able to connect to the honza-account and transferred all the money from Honza´s Internet account to his (thief´s) own account. It was easy, wasn´t it? Of course, the probability of this coincidence is not very high, but who knows.       

Replica of the Trojan Horse in Troy, Turkey

Image by Alaskan Dude via Flickr

 

Notes:

  • Malware means malicious software – authors of malware create programs for harming  other software. Malware includes PS viruses, trojan-horses, spyware and adware.
  • Spyware is a program that uses the Internet for sending data from the computer without awareness of a user of the computer. It differs from the backdoor by a content of sending data, i.e. it sends only statistic data (e.g. overview of visiting pages, installed programs) and can be used for advertising. The spyware is typically widespread in shareware programs and the authors of the shareware know about it and conciliate it because they want to earn money. 
  • Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software that automatically downloads advertisements to a computer. The goal of the adware is to generate revenue for its author. Adware, by itself, is harmless; but some adware may come with integrated spyware such as keyloggers.

See more in What is Adware, Spyware and Anti-virus?

 

 

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Video Games Platforms

October 6, 2010
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Composed by Galina Vitkova

 

Terminology

The term game platform refers to the particular combination of electronic or computer hardware which, in connection with low-level software, allows a video game to run. In general, a hardware platform means a group of compatible computers that can run the same software. A software platform comprises a major piece of software, as an operating system, operating environment, or a database, under which various smaller application programs can be designed to run. Below main platforms of video games are reviewed.   

  

Platforms for PC games 

PC games often require specialized hardware in the user’s computer in order to play, such as a specific generation of graphics processing unit or an Internet connection for online play, although these system requirements vary from game to game. In any case your PC hardware capabilities should meet minimum hardware requirements established for particular PC games. On the other side, many modern computer games allow, or even require, the player to use a keyboard and mouse simultaneously without demanding any additional devices. 

As of the 2000s, PC games are often regarded as offering a deeper and more complex experience than console games. 

 

Video game consoles platform

A video game console is an interactive entertainment computer or modified computer system that produces a video display signal which can be used with a display device to show video games.    

Usually, this system is connected to a common television set or composite video monitor. A composite monitor is any analog video display that receives input in the form of an analog composite video signal through a single cable. The monitor is different from a conventional TV set because it does not have an internal RF (Radio Frequency) tuner or RF converter. However, a user can install an external device that emulates a TV tuner. 

  

Handheld game consoles platform

A handheld game console is a lightweight, portable electronic device of a small size with a built-in screen, games controls and speakers. A small size allows people to carry handheld game consoles and play games at any time or place. 

A One Station handheld console with game

Image via Wikipedia

 The oldest true handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges is the Milton Bradley Microvision issued in 1979. 

Nintendo, with a popular handheld console concept released the Game Boy in 1989, and continues to dominate the handheld console market with successive Game Boy, and most recently Nintendo DS models.  

  

Handheld electronic games platform

In the past decade, handheld video games have currently become a major sector of the video game market. For example, in 2004 sales of portable software titles exceeded $1 billion in the United States. 

The Gizmondo handheld video game unit. United ...

Image via Wikipedia

Handheld electronic games are very small portable devices for playing interactive electronic games, often miniaturized versions of video games. The controls, display and speakers are all a part of a single unit. They usually have displays designed to play one game. Due to this simplicity they can be made as small as a digital watch, and sometimes are. Usually they do not have interchangeable cartridges, disks, etc., or are not reprogrammable.  The visual output of these games can range from a few small light bulbs or a light-emitting diode (LED) lights to calculator-like alphanumerical screens. Nowadays these outputs are mostly displaced by liquid crystal and Vacuum fluorescent display screens. Handhelds were most popular from the late 1970s into the early 1990s. They are both the precursors and inexpensive alternatives to the handheld game console. 

Mobile games platform

A mobile game is a video game played on a mobile phone, smartphone, PDA (Personal Digital Assistant), handheld computer or portable media player.  

The 16 best iPhone games of 2009

Image by docpop via Flickr

The first game that was pre-installed onto a mobile phone was Snake on selected Nokia models in 1997. Snake and its variants have since become the most-played video game on the planet, with over a billion people having played the game. Mobile games are played using the technologies present on the device itself. The games may be installed over the air, they may be side loaded onto the handset with a cable, or they may be embedded on the handheld devices by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) or by the mobile operator. 

For networked games, there are various technologies in common use, for example, text message (SMS), multimedia message (MMS) or GPRS location identification. 

  

Arcade games 

The Simpsons arcade game by Konami

Image by Lost Tulsa via Flickr

An Arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses such as restaurants, public houses, and video arcades. Most arcade games are redemption games, merchandisers (such as claw crane), video games, or pinball machines. The golden age of video arcade games within the early 1980s was a peak era of video arcade game popularity, innovation, and earnings.     

Furthermore, by the late 1990s and early 2000s, networked gaming via console and computers across the Internet had appeared and replaced arcade games. The arcades also lost their a forefront position of the of new game releases. Having the choice between playing a game at an arcade three or four times (perhaps 15 minutes of play for a typical arcade game), and renting, at about the same price, the exact same game for a video game console, people selected the console. To remain viable, arcades added other elements to complement the video games such as redemption games, merchandisers, games that use special controllers largely inaccessible to home users. Besides, they equiped games with  reproductions of automobile or airplane cockpits, motorcycle or horse-shaped controllers, or highly dedicated controllers such as dancing mats and fishing rods. Moreover, today arcades extended their activities by food service etc. striving to become “fun centers” or “family fun centers”. 

All modern arcade games use solid state electronics and integrated circuits. In the past coin-operated arcade video games generally used custom per-game hardware often with multiple CPUs, highly specialized sound and graphics chips, and the latest in computer graphics display technology. Recent arcade game hardware is often based on modified video game console hardware or high-end PC components.

References:   http://en.wikipedia.org/

 

 


Contemporary gaming

August 29, 2010
2 Comments
Composed by Galina Vitkova

 

Dear friends of Technical English!

Having finished discussing new features of Windows 7 we were looking for topics that could be proper for studying Technical English. After a relatively short time we have chosen computer games for reasons as follows:

  • This topic may be interesting for a larger amount of people studying and needing English. Effectiveness of studying interesting subjects that fascinate you is, as well-known, much higher;
  • In PC games many general methods and instruments that are commonly used for building software applications and systems are applied, too. It means that the same terminology is used in both cases. Thus studying technical texts about PC games we can significantly enrich our professional vocabulary by those technical terms;
  • Games contribute to development of communication skills and reaction readiness, the interest to a game strengthen your ability to remember or memorize new words and expressions;
  • PC games, in spite of their controversial reputation, provide a good means for relaxation.

Enjoy the text and participate in discussion!

 

Contemporary gaming

Personal Computer games (also known as computer games or PC games) have evolved from the simple graphics and gameplays of early titles like Spacewar to a wide range of more visually advanced titles.

 

Playing Spacewar

Image by Marcin Wichary via Flickr

 

 

Although personal computers only became popular with the development of microprocessors, mainframes and minicomputers, computer gaming has existed since at least the 1960s. The first generation of  PC games were often text adventures or interactive fictions, in which the player communicated with the computer by entering commands through a keyboard. Increasing adoption of the computer mouse, and high resolution bitmap displays allowed to include increasingly high-quality graphical interfaces in new releases. Further improvements to games were made with the introduction of the first sound cards in 1987. These cards allowed IBM PC compatible computers to produce complex sounds using frequency modulation (FM synthesis). Previously those computers had been limited to simple tones and beeps.

 

Xbox 360 Case Mod - mosaic Tomb Raider Legend case

 

By 1996, the rise of Microsoft Windows and success of 3D console titles gave rise to great interest in hardware accelerated 3D graphics on the IBM PC compatible computers, and soon resulted in attempts to produce affordable solutions. Tomb Raider, which was released in 1996, was one of the first shooter games acclaimed for its revolutionary graphics. However, major changes to the Microsoft Windows operating system made many older MS-DOS-based games unplayable on Windows NT, and later, Windows XP without using an emulator. The faster graphics accelerators and improving CPU technology resulted in increasing levels of realism in computer games. During this time, the improvements have allowed developers to increase the complexity of modern game engines. PC gaming currently tends strongly toward improvements in 3D graphics.

Concurrently, many game publishers began to experiment with new forms of marketing. Nowadays episodic gaming is chief among these alternative strategies. This kind of gaming is an adaptation of the older concept of expansion packs, in which game content is provided in smaller quantities but for a proportionally lower price. Titles such as Half-Life 2: Episode One took advantage of the idea, with mixed results rising from concerns for the amount of content provided for the price.

The multi-purpose nature of personal computers often allows users to modify the content of installed games with relative ease in comparison with console cames. The console games are generally difficult to modify without a proprietary means. Furthermore, they are often protected by legal and physical barriers against tampering. Contrary to it, the personal computer version of games may be modified using common, easy-to-obtain software. Users can then distribute their customised version of the game (commonly known as a mod) by any means they choose.

The inclusion of map editors, such as UnrealEd with the retail versions of many games that have been made available online, allow users to create modifications for games smoothly. Moreover, the users may use for this purpose tools that are maintained by the games’ original developers. In addition, companies such as id Software have released the source code to older game engines. Thus they enable creation of entirely new games and major changes to existing ones.

Modding have allowed much of the community to produce game elements that would not normally be provided by the developer of the game. Due to it expanding or modifying normal gameplays to varying degrees has been enabled.

References:   http://en.wikipedia.org/


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