Chapter7.gif (951 bytes) Designing Computer Games

Appropriate, and Other, Hardware for Computer Wargames

  • IBM PC (and clones). First introduced in 1981, this machine does not have the best combination of features, but it can do the job. Uses the Intel 16 bit 8088 or 8086 processor. Wide array of add-on components make the IBM PC series the most flexible machine available. Widely available, there are over sixty million installed world wide. Standard machine in most organizations. Widest selection of software. Most major new software first comes out in an IBM PC version. Large number of different games. The original (1981) IBM PC had twice the throughput of older 8 bit machines (Apple, CP/M, Commodore 64, etc.) Now considered a low end machine. Can be boosted much higher with add-ons. About half the PCs in the world are of this type. I still have a 1983 Compaq (a portable clone of the original IBM PC) which I keep as a spare. I've added a hard disk and a high density disk drive. Nine years old and still going. Gets turned on four or five times a year and still works.
  • IBM AT type- Introduced in 1984. Also known as the ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) type. Three to ten times the throughput of the original PC. Can be boosted even higher with add-ons. Based on the Intel 16 bit 80286 microprocessor. In 1991, the baseline machine for many new computer wargames.
  • 386 machines- Introduced in 1986. Fifteen to thirty times the speed of an original PC. Based on the Intel i386 32 bit microprocessor. Standard machine of the early 1990s.
  • 486 machines- Introduced in 1989. Thirty to seventy times the speed of an original PC. Based on the Intel i486 32 bit microprocessor. Standard machine of the mid 1990s.
  • 586 machines- Introduced in 1993. Sixty to over a hundred times the speed of an original PC. Plus this machine will have much more powerful video capabilities, enabling it to create movies ("full action video") on the computer screen. Based on the Intel i586 32 bit microprocessor. Standard machine of the mid to late 1990s.
  • The Clones-Offer same capabilities as IBM models at lower prices. Some clone models also out perform IBM machines at lower price. Compaq was the first major clone, in 1983. Others followed, pushing prices lower and performance higher each year. Major clone maker PCs considered as reliable (if not more so) than IBM.
  • Macintosh- The Mac II series is equal to the 386 and high end AT machines, but costs a third more. Graphics about the same as IBM EGA and VGA modes. Original MAC and MAC SE a cut above XT in speed, but more expensive and not numerous enough to support widely distributed software. Later Mac models matched Intel microprocessor machines (IBM and clones). Many games running on IBM machines are not available for the MAC.
  • Low Cost Machines- Apple II and Commodore 64/128 have limited power, but still widely available. No longer any new games for Apple II, some for the Commodore. Amiga- Excellent hardware capabilities, but not not a major factor in the US market (most sales are in Europe). Good selection of software, but increasingly distant third after the IBM and Mac. Atari ST- Similar to the Amiga, but not as technically advanced. Also sold widely in Europe, but less and less in the US. The ST may survive not survive long in the US market.

Life at the Front

To give you some more insight on how computer wargames are designed, I include here some material on the two computer wargames I was working on as this book was being written.

  The Computer Wargame Development Team

  Victory at Sea

  Table of Contents

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