The evolution of shooters. Part 1 / SurprizingFacts

We disassembled the evolution of racing games, and it's time for shooters. When was the first time the camera began to sway while moving, adding realism? When did the gun appear on the screen? What did the first shooters look like? And why does the majority use WASD as the main combination on the keyboard?

 image The history of modern shooters that assume first-person control begins in the 1970s. One of the first games in the genre was Maze War, released in 1973 for the Imlac PDS-1 computer. The player moved through the labyrinth through invisible squares, turning left and right 90 degrees.

To shoot at the enemy, it was enough to look at him, and not aim at a specific point. There was already both single and multi-player modes: the other players saw the player as eyeballs.

Steve Collie was working on the game at NASA's Ames Research Center. He used tile graphics. The tile image consists of a set of tiles and a matrix of cells. Tiles – "tiles" – images of the same size, from which the full picture is built. This approach allows you to build spaces, spending a little memory.


For the palm of the championship with Maze War struggles space simulator in 1974 called Spasim, developed for the computer system PLATO. This is again a multiplayer game with a number of participants up to 32 people. Players move in space on spaceships in the polar coordinate system, and the players themselves calculate the correct coordinates for movement. The PLATO system is teaching.


One of the first 3D shooters was Hovertank 3D, Released in 1991. Events take place during a nuclear war. The main character is the mercenary Brik Slaj. He must evacuate people from cities under threat of attack, but he is prevented by mutants, armed guards and hovercraft tanks.

The game was made by id Software. The developers used sprite graphics. The same scalable sprites and painted walls were later used in Catacomb 3D and Wolfenstein 3D.

The player ran an air-cushion tank. To create a more realistic atmosphere, the shooter was added to the shooter while moving.

The difference between the game Hovertank 3D from other games of that time was its speed. The 3D engine was smart, because John Carmack used Ray casting technology. Scenes in the game were built on the basis of measurements of the intersection of rays with a visualized surface. In other words, the computer only rendered what the user saw, not all of the space at the same time. Followed by Hovertank 3D games from Carmack used the same algorithm. In 1991 id Software released Catacomb 3D.


In 1991, id Software released the Catacomb 3D. Indicator of health made the image of the face of the protagonist, which later migrated to Doom. Catacomb 3D was the third game in the cycle, where the first two games had two-dimensional graphics and a top view.

The main character is a magician capable of throwing fiery balls at opponents. It is necessary to pass through the labyrinth, kill the necromancer and save his friend.

For the first time in the shooter, an image of a weapon appeared from below in the middle of the screen – the hand of a magician

Id Software decided to make Castle Wolfenstein from 1981 and its continuation of 1984 Beyond Castle Wolfenstein shooter, bought the rights to the games and released in 1992 Wolfenstein 3D. The protagonist is a soldier trying to escape from the Nazi fortress. The game had a lot of secret rooms, where you can find jewelry, products, first-aid kits, weapons and ammunition. The heroes are opposed by guards, dogs, monsters and bosses at the end of the levels.

In the original, which was very different from the 3D version, the player could change into an enemy uniform and silently kill the enemy. To implement this in their first game developers of the company id Software did not, because this greatly complicated the management and delayed the game.

The engine was based on the same principles as Hovertank 3D and Catacomb 3D. But if the EGA-graphics in Catacomb was able to display 16 colors, the support for the VGA standard in Wolfenstein 3D allowed to improve this result to 256 colors. This was a huge step forward in terms of the visual component of the game.


The first Doom was released on December 10, 1993. The creator of the game John Carmack said that the style of the game was inspired by "Alien" and the second "Sinister Dead". If you did not have a chance to play Doom, briefly about the plot: you are a special forces sent to Mars. You will be taken into custody due to violation of the order of the officer to shoot at civilians, but after losing contact with his comrades on Phobos, you break out to deal with the problems. In general, this is not very important. The main thing – you are attacked by creepy creatures, which you purposefully kill. You shoot, blast, search for hiding places, avoid traps.

The game has become a cult. Until the 2000s, all first-person shooters were called Doom clones, which in principle they were. Only the intersection with other genres of games such as Aliens versus Predator, and the addition of the plot without a break from the game, as in Half-Life, were able to add something new to the game genre.

The game engine supported several functions that lifted the genre to a new level. In Doom there were switches responsible for various events: opening doors and walls, moving platforms. Elevators lifted the player to other floors. The same elevators could crush the player.


In Catacomb 3D, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom the player could Turn only to the right and left. To kill the enemy on the dais or below you, you just had to look in his direction and shoot. Heretic on the advanced engine Doom, released in 1994, added to the genre the ability to look up and down. Another difference from the game predecessors was inventory with artifacts, which could be used in the process, and not immediately after they were picked up. In case of loss of health, the player could use the Quartz bottle and restore it, and the application of the Chaos Emblem at any time teleports the player to the beginning of the level. In the 1994 game, Bungie released the Marathon for Macintosh. In the game of 1994, Bungie released the Marathon for Macintosh.

Where you could not only look up and down, but freely change the direction of view with the mouse. This game was one of the first shooters, where the capabilities of this manipulator were used instead of the standard arrows on the keyboard. In Marathon appeared a rocket-jump. Up to eight people could play on the local network.


In early 1996, 3D Realms released the Duke Nukem 3D . The first two games in the series were platformers. The new clone of Doom with pseudo-three-dimensional corridors supported a single version and multiplayer, although the latter only on Windows 95.

The game was divided into quotations: "Let's rock!", "Hail to the King baby!", "Damn … I 'M looking good! "(This phrase the main character said when he saw himself in the mirror). In the game there were a lot of Easter eggs with references to films.

Developers id Software did not doze and set the pace for competitors. Quake 1996 remained relevant for many years. And not thanks to the schedule, although you can still look at it without pain in your eyes. The 3D graphics before that time looked weaker than the pseudo-3D developed at that time. But Quake managed to use textured polygonal models at the right level. The gameplay was interesting, the multiplayer battles were excellent, and the soundtrack from the founder of Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor helped to add atmosphere.

If the game Street Fighter II is associated with the concept of "combo", then Quake – with the concept of tricking in computer games. There was a rocket-jumper already used in the games, as well as a bug that made it possible to accelerate in jumping – to do a strafe jumper.

Before the release of the full version, there was a demo version of QTest that did not have a single mode. For the first day there were dozens of servers for playing on the network.

Quake played a huge influence on eSports. More precisely, it has risen to its origins in the modern sense. Championships were held, professional players appeared. On February 18, 1996, several people at id Software headquarters tested the game before the release, in August of that year in Texas, 40 people took part in the championship, and in September the championship in New York was covered in the media.

June 1997 Red Annihilation was held in Atlanta at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. At this championship, Dennis Fong won the Ferrari 328 GTS John Carmack. I wonder what combination of keys Phong used.

In shooters before Quake and Marathon, it was enough to have an arrow on the keyboard, but in them a mouse was added to the control, and it became inconvenient to press the arrows. Among the options appeared A Shift Z X, where A – forward, and Z – back, WADX, EDSF. The developers of Wolfenstein and Wizardry were users of PLATO, where the management in the game Moria was carried out using AWD.

Phong selected WASD. John Carmack added to the Quake II configuration of the name of Fong, but only in Half-Life it first became the default configuration.


Half-Life game from Valve was created on the recycled The Quake engine. One of the differences between Half-Life and other games in general and shooters in particular is the narrative without video sets. The plot develops in the game world with the participation of the player. This made it possible to achieve an even greater immersion. Adding the effect of the fact that the voice of the protagonist, we have not heard. The world became more complicated, the player was not only enemies, but also allies.

Quake fans worked on the creation of the game. Newell and Harrington, the founders of Valve, found inexperienced modders and several game industry veterans from 3D Realms, Shiny Entertainment and Microsoft.


Fans-modders played an important role for Valve. In 1999, the SDK for creating mods Half-Life was released in free access. Among amateur crafts was the Counter Strike mod. In 2000, Valve noticed the project and bought the fashion of Mina Lee and Jess Cliff, developing it to the full game Counter-Strike 1.6, and then a whole series of games that became a synonym for eSports. A multiplayer game and conquered the audience, competing with Quake III and Unreal Tournament.

In the games of this series, server administrators and tournament organizers especially have to make sure that players do not use cheats. The familiar standard set of tools for deception and dealing with it comes into normalcy


Today, the atmosphere of the game world in shooters, we learn from the old pixelated screenshots. Technical progress gradually brought the graphics to the level of photorealistic, but do not think that it was the main challenge. A sound is important for a good game.

In Aliens versus Predator from Rebellion Developments the support of a surround sound is realized. In the dark, the player knew where the enemy was. Unexpected sounds are needed to create an atmosphere of horror and full immersion in the genre of survival horror. Although "Strangers against a predator" is also a stealth-action: at game for the Alien it is necessary to bypass opponents with the automatic weapon, after all you have only claws, a teeth and a tail my documents .

The player takes on the role of Alien, Predator or Marine. Each of the characters needs their own tactics. A Marine from a firearm can kill an Alien, but an Alien can scare a soldier out to let him out into the darkness of the whole store and start reloading. And then the Stranger tears his victim.


An important milestone for shooters on consoles was the game GoldenEye 007 , Released in 1997 for the Nintendo 64. It was with great pleasure that the players found themselves in the shoes of the famous James Bond. The game received a huge amount of positive feedback from both players and critics.

In this article, we did not remember about all the games until 2000. So let's discuss in the comments the shooters you remember and how they influenced the genre and what was added to it.



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