Geometry and It’s Relation to Video Games


The definition of the word “Geometry” is a surprisingly short one. The definition is the mathematics of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids. It sounds like a

fairly complete definition, but it really isn’t. Geometry expands on so much more than that. Geometry is everywhere in our every day lives. Everything we look at, every second of the day has at least some kind of geometric property to it, for example, the I-Pod you use everyday. That thing is chock-full of geometry. The screen is a rectangle, one of the most basic geometric shapes there is. The pixels that make up that screen are little squares which consist of 3 small rectangles facing vertically. The three rectangles use the 3 base colors, Red, Green, and Blue, which are individually lit at different brightness’s to create a shade of color, and all the other pixels on the screen work in conjunction with each other to produce one image on the screen. It’s a very fascinating subject. Without modern geometry, the I-pod wouldn’t exist, or if it did, it would most likely look far different from what it does now.

Geometry is believed to have been discovered back in 30,000BC, by our ancient ancestors. It all started with Paleolithic peoples in central Europe and France recording numbers on bones. Then as the years went on, the Babylonians and the Egyptians had their own things going on as well. The Egyptians started using hieroglyphic numerals, and the Babylonians started using a sexagesimal number system for recording financial transactions. Then later, the abacus was developed, and more astounding events in mathematical history came to being.

Video games have been using geometry for decades. They have been using them in abstract and non-abstract ways. The first games to use geometry were the old Two-Dimensional arcade games we all knew and love back in the late 70’s and 80’s. An example would be old school Atari, and another example would be the old NES. Those used simple 8-bit graphics systems which consisted of little squares of different colors, which when combined in the right fashion, created well defined shapes and characters.

We also can’t forget about the old arcade games we used to play, like Battlezone, which came out in 1980. That game was heavily reliant on geometry. That game used little triangles, trapezoids, and squares to create Three-Dimensional looking tanks and objects.
There is also another golden oldie that most people know about and play more than once a week. The game is called Tetris. It was originally conceived by a man named Alexey Pajitnov, and was released in 1985. It is a favorite amongst many people across the world. It involves using irregular geometric shapes created by sequences of squares joined together. The objective is to form an uninterrupted line of squares across one area of the playing field to continue the game, and get points. You can rotate these shapes to have them fit into the empty gaps the way you want them to, in order to strategically form a line. This game used geometry in a very simple way, but nowadays geometry is used in a far, far more sophisticated way than ever before. Now we have Pixel Shaders, Anisotropic Filtering, and Dynamic Shadows and the huge multitude of complex things that make modern video games, such as Call of Duty 3 or the upcoming title, “Crysis”, look as good as they do.

With the upgrades in hardware that game consoles have received over the years, it’s no surprise to the tech geeks, and non-geeks alike, that games are looking more and more lifelike every day. With these huge advances in hardware technology, it brings whole new ways to the table, to utilize geometry towards the development of video games.

A video game will start off as a concept, then advance into the first few lines of code that start its primary development. A video game cannot become a video game unless it has a graphics engine. The graphics engine consists of all the lines of code and data needed in order to make use of all this amazing hardware technology and most importantly, geometry.

The way geometry is used, is actually simpler than it seems. First it starts out with the Software Development Kit that is used to make the game. The artists who use the Software Development Kit have to create the Maps, or Environments that the player will be playing in through the duration of the game. Everything in a video game starts out as a wire frame model. This wire frame model is made up of a huge multitude of polygons. The amount of polygons in the model depends on the complexity of the graphics engine and what platform the game is intended for. For example, a game that is to be released on the Xbox360 would have a lot of polygons in the models. A game to be released on the Playstation2 would have a much lower amount of polygons in the models because there is far less rendering power in the Playstation2 than there is in the Xbox360. It takes a lot of power to render all those polygons and texture them, and add all the lighting for the environment, and add shaders, and everything that goes into making a final output image. The characters of the video game go through a very similar process. They are all made up of a wire frame as well. These are called player models. Player Models have the thousands of polygons, the other models do not. There are fewer polygons around the leg area, fewer around the stomach, but far, far more as you go up and once you get to the face you won’t be able to count them anymore. There used to be very few polygons in Player Models. As the years went on however, the amount of polygons kept increasing to the beautiful graphics we have today.

Geometry is also used in movies too. In order to create the mind blowing special effects we see in Sci-Fi films, the same principles are used. You use a Software Development kit, and then you create a wire frame model of what you want to do, then finish it by adding lighting and shaders to the scene, and texturing your wire frame. This has been a procedure used by all the special effects companies such as Industrial Light and Magic and Weta Digital. One of the first major CGI characters to use geometry in order for it to come to the screen was the water face in the movie called, “The Abyss”. It was revolutionary

It’s amazing how much geometry there is in this world, and how much of it we don’t notice. It’s not like we neglect to notice, we just can’t notice because of all of our other daily concerns whether it be getting to work on time, or just simply going to sleep. There is so much to still be discovered in Geometry; uses for it, new shapes, and many other things. It is just a matter of time before we discover it all, and there is nothing left.

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