LowComDom Performances Presents
So you're saying Pong used a 3D graphics rendering engine?
Here is an excerpt from an interview GamePlayer did with Randy Mutt, the creator of Pong:
GamePlayer: Video games certainly have come a long way since you first exploited the medium to create Pong.
Randy Mutt: There are some interesting new games out there, and there have been some improvements in the hardware.
GP: Wouldn't you say that there have been some big advancements in the software as well?
RM: This is a common misconception. The 3D engines you see running some of the newer flight simulators and virtual reality products are essentially no different than the engine Pong used.
GP: So you're saying Pong used a 3D graphics rendering engine?
GP: But there were no 3D graphics in the game.
RM: That's not true. The screen displayed real-time rendered versions of fully three dimensional models. We used trilinear mip-mapping for the textures and ray tracing to get the shading right.
GP: Textures? Shading?
RM: For reasons of game design and aesthetics, the textures we used were all flat white for the foreground and black for the background, but this wasn't a limitation of engine per se. The light source is modeled as a large bank of fluorescent lights placed above the camera.
GP: I see... But the camera never moves.
RM: The camera did move in the alpha version of the program, but we found that this confused players during play-testing, so we made it stationary. But the 3D effects can still be seen, since the paddles and the ball follow curved paths in 3-space.
GP: It looks like the paddles and the ball are going in straight lines on a plane.
RM: That's not true, the paddle actually travels in a semicircular path in a 3 dimensional volume. It is closest to the camera when it appears in the center of its path. The two players are not at the same height either. If we were to move the camera a little to the side, you'd see that the left player is actually a lot higher than the player on the right.
GP: But then shouldn't one paddle appear larger than the other? And wouldn't they shrink and expand as the player moved his paddle to various positions on the semicircle?
RM: Well no, because we also used a technique that allowed us to morph our 3D models on the fly. As the paddle gets closer to the camera, it is actually shrinking in size. The model-morphing, combined with the 3D engine, makes the paddle appear to be the same size when rendered on the 2D viewing plane. We morphed the ball's model too, to get a similar effect.