Wolfenstein 3D turns 20, celebrates with free web version

By on May 10, 2012, 1:30 PM

This past Sunday marked the 20th anniversary of “Wolfenstein 3D,” the game that essentially laid the groundwork for the first-person shooter genre and influenced many of id Software's titles for years. To celebrate the milestone, Bethesda (which acquired iD Software in 2009) has released a free, browser-based version of the iconic game where you’ll have to shoot your way out of a Nazi stronghold during World War II.

Although Wolfenstein wasn’t id’s first 3D shooter — Hovertank and Catacomb 3D came before it — it was a major improvement as it moved from a 16-color EGA to a 256-color VGA graphics palette and used 2D sprites mapped from eight perspectives to produce a better illusion of 3D objects. It also established the fast-paced action commonly expected in the genre, encouraging exploration and rewarding players with various treasures, hidden rooms, and even some easter eggs like a Pac-Man level.

Doom came a year later with better graphics and network play, while 3D Realms and Valve followed with titles such as Duke Nukem 3D in 1996 and Half-Life in 1998. Together with the advances in 3D hardware technology these companies helped spawn a PC gaming industry now worth billions of dollars.

Along with the free, web-based game Bethesda also published a 25-minute developer commentary track where industry legend John Carmack talks about his memories of the game and the early days of id Software.




User Comments: 15

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Guest said:

That means I was 5 years old and was playing this epic game :eek:

Guest said:

This means I'm very old :(

Impressive graphics back in the day :D

nazartp said:

I was in college when this thing appeared. Remember playing it with SoundBlaster in earphones. Was quite a step up from other games in every damn aspect.

Guest said:

We're both very old LOL.

This game was so enjoyable! it reminds me of the time that we had to load those games into the first 512K of memory or they won't work!!

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I was 15 when this came out. That summer my parents bought me a nice 486 DX2 66 for getting a good PSAT score, LOL, that rig was sick. Played this ad nauseum.

MCJeeba said:

Ahhh... When WW2 games actually used swastikas, instead of fake flags.

killeriii said:

Free on ios right now too!

Furball said:

You're old when you know what "QEMM386 /expand" did and why you had to "optimize" autoexec.bat and config.sys >_<

PinothyJ said:

Valve had nothing AT ALL to do with Duke Nukem as Half Life was their first game...

p51d007 said:

I remember I use to be able to edit config.sys & autoexec.bat files on the fly to squeeze every little bit of ram to get the sound and graphics to work right on wolf 3d.

copy con autoexec.bat.....Ctrl F6 to save LOL....ah the good ole days. I still have a box copy of dos 4,5,6, Qemm386 LOL.

Wizz-Fizz Wizz-Fizz said:

Valve had nothing AT ALL to do with Duke Nukem as Half Life was their first game...

No one said they did. 3D Reals were appropriately credited in the article.

I remember I use to be able to edit config.sys & autoexec.bat files on the fly to squeeze every little bit of ram to get the sound and graphics to work right on wolf 3d.

copy con autoexec.bat.....Ctrl F6 to save LOL....ah the good ole days. I still have a box copy of dos 4,5,6, Qemm386 LOL.

Ahhh DOS

They days when people had to know what HIMEM, IRQ and DMA addressing was

Guest said:

Crappy old game. <- This from someone who entered the scene when Doom was out.

PinothyJ said:

No one said they did. 3D Reals were appropriately credited in the article.

Ahhh DOS

They days when people had to know what HIMEM, IRQ and DMA addressing was

The article has since been updated to reflect that

Guest said:

What I remember:

1. The maps (the WAD files)

2. Those brown dogs darting from L to R and vice versa.

3. DOS ruled

4. Killing Hitler felt really good ...

5. Oh yes, getting psyched! I loved it.

Guest said:

Played this one back in the day and the 2nd one. I got a level editor for it and my brothers and I would make levels to torment each other - open up a door and suddenly you're in a massive room with 100 dogs, get to the end door and there's a boss waiting inside of it..."Guten Tag!", make a level that has tons of end of level switches but only one works, etc. Playing the game now it seems so antiquated but it was so much fun back then.

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