Dec 20, 2006

The history of the FPS. A pictorial.

First Person Shooters, games filled with such splendid jokes as the BFG, and a genre that's sort of eclipsed most other forms of video games. This is its history. (Well, not all of it of course and it only makes it to DOOM, but ... err... it's got nice pictures)

Spasim (1974), short for space simulation, is arguably (and that's a strong and 500$ argument) the first multi-player virtual reality game ever and the grandaddy of the FPS, unless of course it's not. The game was played by up to 32 players on the PLATO network. It looked like this and more info is available here.


Then again, Maze War, might have been developed a bit earlier than Spasim, and was -one way or another- the first 3D game to feature an avatar and a map. Digibarn has more details.


Battlezone (1980) was a major arcade jaw-dropper, that cunningly used a green and red overlay over a pretty smart vector showing monitor. See the following picture, learn more or get another history lesson.


3-Demon (1983). A 3d PacMan clone really, but it's all wireframe. MobyGames knows more.

Aliens (1986) was obviously based on the excellent Aliens movies. And it definitely was a very close to our silly-but-contemporary FPS ideal. Really. See for yourselves. Play the C64 version. Also got a nice MobyGames entry.


Now, better ignore Operation Wolf and move on to Driller (1987), a.k.a. Space Station Oblivion, the very first, very real, quite proper looking FPS by Incentive Software. The game has you shooting and puzzling enemies to oblivion, and Wikipedia has a ridiculously long entry on it.


Hovertank 3D (1991), a direct predecessor to classic Wolfenstein, was created by none other than John Romero and John Carmack. Id is still proud of this little gem, that created its first truly important graphics engine, one combining scalable sprites with nice big flat vectors.


Catacomb 3D (1991) evolved Hovertank by adding textures, a fantasy setting and a visible avatar's hand. Find out more.


Wolfenstein 3D (1992) was a shareware game. Yes. An indy gimmicky little thing, that actually changed the history of video games. Oh, you killed Nazis and Nazi-zombies, but guess you know that. No? Oh, dear...


Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss (1992). The best fantasy RPG ever to grace the PC (MobyGames entry), and the game that showed Deus Ex and System Shock the way. Created by Richard Garriot's Origin, it featured a fully 3d world and even gave the players the amazing ability to look up and down.


DOOM (1993). No need to say a damn thing, really. This juggernaut of a game evolved so many ideas and managed to create such a tense gameplay experience it simply bought each and every one of its creators a big red Ferrari (almost). It also started the whole modding and multiplayer game craze.


The rest, as they (they?) say, is history. Then again, so is Sierra...

Related @ Gnome's Lair: SEGA Mega Anser, a mouse in 1963, sick and sick video games, Mario...


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61 comments:

  1. A quite excellent post Mr.Gnome, for a FPS fan like myself it's been an eye opener, a quarter of a century since I first played Battlezone.... feck!!!

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  2. No Midi Maze? For Shame.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIDI_Maze

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  3. Some FPS's were missed. They are:

    Encounter for the Atari 8 bit ~1984
    BallBlazer Atari 8bit and C64

    Questron for the Atari 8bit had a first person perspective and you could fire arrows IIRC.

    Exodus Ultima III also has first person dungeons.

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  4. Oh yes and Dungeon Master (1987) and Chaos Strikes Back (1989) were FPS's (fire arrows, spells, throw things, etc).

    The first texture mapped first person game was called Alternate Reality made on the Atari 8bit, released 1985. You couldn't shoot things in 3d though.

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  5. Ant Attack, ZX Spectrum, 1983 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_Ant_Attack

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  6. Elite, an awesome, much-copied space trading and combat game, wire-frame 3d, for the BBC Micro (UK) in 1984 Elite pages

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  7. Here is one for you that was on Intellivision, ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
    TREASURE OF TARMIN (1983), http://www.intellivisionlives.com/bluesky/games/credits/1983c.html#tarmin

    -Jeff O'Hara
    http://blog.zemote.com

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  8. yo, what about D&D eye of the beholder series. although not a fluid 3d movement, the step frame 3d maze feel was one of the best in my opinion and the original came out around 1991 or so. it was stygen and wolf3d that first introduced the fluid free to move 3d action.

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  9. tsk tsk!
    You forgot Atari - Star Raiders!

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  10. For non-US game players

    3d monster maze on the ZX81 in 1981/2

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_Monster_Maze

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  11. Why, thank you Mr. Elderly. Time does indeed fly by in the most disturbing of ways...

    Now, cheers for the comments guys, on to the answers:

    anonynous#1 A valid point indeed, but just had to leave quite a few games out of this. Tried to focus on what I considered milestones only...

    Jonathan... I'd have to disagree on the Ultima front, as tile based is not 3d... Same goes -I am afraid- for the excellent Dungeon Master/CSB games... Now, Alternate Reality, I have to check out...

    Ralph... AntAttack is no way a FPS. It's a 3d isometric game, really... While, Elite, yes... amazing game... it is 3d... and a -at times- a shooter... Just didnt feel right to add here...

    Zemote... interesting game... If it's not tile-based it would be a definite addition...

    More anonymous friends... Eye of the Beholder is NOT a 3d game. It's tile-based with a 3d look. Not 3d tech. 3d monster maze... yes... blogged it so many times I somehow forgot the 1k wonder... Wouldn't agree on the inclusion Star Raiders...

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  12. (altough Star Raiders in indeed 3d - just never liked the little bugger)

    :)

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  13. Arctic Fox on the Amiga an early 3d tank game.

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  14. You mean this one:

    http://eager.back2roots.org/DATA/A/ARCFO.HTML

    very interesting indeed. Does look a bit like Stellar 7 by Dynamix.

    :)

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  15. You are missing another key FPS. 1982 Dungeons of Daggorath for the TRS80 Color Computer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeons_of_Daggorath
    http://mspencer.net/daggorath/dodpcp.html

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  16. Hmmm...quite... as already stated though i didn't want to add many more games (another post perhaps?)... DoD was an excellent game -only played the emulated version- but being more of an RPG and less than a shooty thing I left it out.. Don't know.. perhaps t'was a mistake...

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  17. Great list, but also catacomps of the abyss which was the sequel to the original added alot of new things.

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  18. From the comments here, my dear Gnome, you should start a series...

    *hint hint*

    ;-)

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  19. (Gnome ponders on the insuffience of hints these days)

    A series of what though? Of pictorials, perhaps?

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  20. strangely, i don't recall any red filters on any Battlezone machine.

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  21. Oh, what about Bard's Tale? Bard's Tale had a 3-d view, texture mapped, but was by no definition "real time"

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  22. I guess I'm not that old after all, since the first game I recognized was Wolfenstein!

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  23. Happy lucky *vs*...

    *ekdikeo* Bard's Tale was a brilliant game... guess I might have a look at its newer version... Red filters... hmm... I did read so....

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  24. Ultima Underworld came out before Wolfenstein 3D by a couple of months. It was created by Blue Sky Productions, who would later become Looking Glass Studios after a merger, and was published by Origin. Ultima Underworld is notable for its advanced 3d engine, wolf3D and others used ray casting at the time, that included lighting, varying wall heights, slopped surfaces, swimming and jumping in its 3d world. In fact, a demo of the Underworld tech inspired Carmark to create the wolf3D engine.

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  25. Most knoweledgeable... Thanks a ton for the comment Raven! Much appreciated!

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  26. I guess i was the only one in the entire world to ever play Total Eclipse for the Commdore 64. It was a true 3D real time (hell you only had a couple hours to complete the game before the sun went into Total Eclipse and you lost) game completely done in the first person perspective.

    http://www.mobygames.com/game/c64/total-eclipse

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  27. i CANT believe you didn't include MARATHON. bungie's second FPS after Pathways into Darkness. MArathon came out before or right around the same time as DOOM as was undeniably better and more advanced.

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  28. Where is 'Descent' which was a FPS in space? Paved the way for 360 views you get today. Not to mention Red Faction with destruction? Glaring oversights!

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  29. Efflixi, I did play Total Eclipse, but it was on the Amstrad! An excellent game with an infuriating time limit... The reason I didn't put was because Driller was so much more impressive... Still, you've got a point!

    Anonymous a) never heard of Marathon... Sorry...

    Anonymous b) both Descent and Red Faction (loved the plot) came AFTER Doom... Hope that clears things up...

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  30. Red Faction 2 wasn't up to much though. It's amazing how there was less destruction than the first.

    The graphics were a bit too colourful for me, especially given the gritty bleakness of the first.

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  31. marathon is definitely a hole in the story. still the greatest fps for its time. made doom look juvenile.

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  32. Anonymous, seems Marathon was released in 1994, thus after Doom.. Anyway. It's a fine tip...

    Tom, I'll believe you I guess... Especially since I've never played Red Faction 2 ;)

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  33. Mercenary?

    Midwinter?

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  34. Yes, yes, Midwinter too... It even introduced the bloody sniper rifle... Anyway. I give up and go to sleep.

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  35. Awesome post!
    Thanks for reminding me of 3-Demon's name :)

    Just blogged ya'

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  36. Thanks a ton oh Racketboy, master of the retro....

    :)

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  37. what give up and sleep? you can't theres a queue the whole way round the block.... erm could i start selling tickets? t-shirts? postcards?

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  38. Another vote to 3d monster maze on the ZX81!!!

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  39. Still very sleepy Elderly dear... all these partying-obligations along with unavoidable xmas goodtimes are indeed tiring. Frightfully so.... Why not try selling some nice french postcards?

    JF... vote accepted :)

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  40. I know the list is growing too big, but here are some very cool/awesome games that were also part of this genre:

    ArticFox:
    http://hol.abime.net/3302

    (maybe) Captain Blood:
    http://hol.abime.net/2924

    (maybe) StarGlider I & II:
    http://hol.abime.net/2108
    http://hol.abime.net/2109

    Corporation:
    http://hol.abime.net/3092
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporation_(video_game)

    Cybercon III:
    http://hol.abime.net/3159

    Anonymous: Marathon came after Doom, as it was inspired by Doom.

    Little trivia: our 1995(?) PC demo "Mega demo" (http://www.dddgames.com/demos/ddd.html) had a map which was based on that of the awesome Alternate Reality game!

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  41. Wow, thanks a ton Adonis! That's an amazing collection... Guess I should start work on another FPS post...

    By the way... Corporation... Ah! brilliant!

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  42. ..voila ici les saucey posts cartes...(?) pour une centime a peek....

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  43. Would you mind saying the same thing again ony in German?

    It would be indeed great... and quite a bit more comprehensible...

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  44. Dungeon Master anyone?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dungeon_Master_(computer_game)

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  45. All of us really.... but unofrtunately it's not 3d... it's tile based....

    Anyway. Thanks for the cmment oh most nemeless of the anonymous...

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  46. Glad you agree Gnome! :)

    I loved that game, although I sucked at it, but it was SOOOOOO fast and the graphics were great!

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  47. Well, glad you agree too adonis :) Thanks again for popping back in mate! Cheers!

    To the Corporation, then!

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  48. Hey Gnome! Just saw your article! Very well done. I actually just did a review of the very same thing, except from Battlezone to Call of Duty 4. 27 + years of fragging!

    You can check it out on the mainpage at:

    http://www.jonandbrad.com

    We're a new site... = )

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  49. Thanks for the kind words guys. An excellent site you managed and I really enjoyed the piece. Keep it up!

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  50. Does anyone remember Orgin System's game, "Shadow Caster"?

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  51. I definitely do, though I have never played it. Think it used to run on an updated Wolfenstein engine and be somewhere between Ultima and Doom. Sort of an FPS/RPG hybrid...

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  52. you missed Castle Master for d.o.s!1

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  53. I did mention Driller though which came before it and used the same engine, so I should be ok :)

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  54. I remember playing most of these games as a kid and it soon became my favorite genre of gaming FPSDUNGEON has tons of screenshots for most of these forgoten gems.

    http://www.fpsdungeon.com/index.html

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  55. I found similar information about 3D Ready technology games and movies on www.3D-News.net (not my website)
    This may help people looking for information on the topic.

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  56. I been working of a vid of most of the games mentioned here, take a peek

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vz9jnHyhBwg

    Its split into volumes acording to date. The link above is for Vol 1 1974-1991. Still a few more games to add yet ;-)

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  57. Awww... just missed the video... seems to have been removed.

    Anyway. Thanks!

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  58. http://www.fpsdungeon.com/games/blood/blood.html

    blood is also a great game!

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